MPs blast PwC for role in helping firms avoid tax

Margaret Hodge: 'PwC have promoted tax avoidance.' Picture: PA
Margaret Hodge: 'PwC have promoted tax avoidance.' Picture: PA
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ACCOUNTANCY giant PwC was accused of promoting “tax avoidance on an industrial scale” to numerous multinational firms in a scathing report by MPs yesterday.

The firm was heavily criticised in an investigation by the Commons’ public accounts committee (PAC) on how accountants provide “complex strategies and contrived structures” to big companies to help them slash tax bills.

It found that arrangements to divert profits artificially via Luxembourg promoted to numerous PwC clients “bear all the characteristics of a mass-marketed tax avoidance scheme”.

MPs investigated following the leak of hundreds of documents last November that appeared to show how the firm secured deals with Luxembourg tax authorities for 343 multinational companies between 2002 and 2010.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee, said: “We believe that PwC’s activities represent nothing short of the promotion of tax avoidance on an industrial scale.

“The effect has been to reduce the amount of corporation tax that some multinational companies pay in the countries in which they make their profits.”

The report said many of the companies that received advice from PwC – citing Accenture, Amazon, Burberry, Coca-Cola, Ikea and Vodafone – were household names and that at least 80 had UK headquarters.

PwC disagreed with the committee’s conclusions. But it added: “We recognise we need to do more to explain the positive role we play in the tax system and in helping businesses to operate successfully.

“We agree the tax system is too complex, as governments compete for tax revenues. We take our responsibility to build trust in the tax system seriously.”