Kezia Dugdale said revelations of widespread tax avoidance among the rich and powerful through the “Panama papers” has fulled public anger over issue.
Scottish Labour today confirmed that their manifesto will include a commitment to banning companies who practice aggressive tax avoidance from getting a slice of the billions of pounds worth of public contracts in Scotland.
A new poll carried out on behalf of trade union Unison shows the policy is supported by three quarters of Scottish voters.
Ms Dugdale said: “In the fallout of the Panama Papers, people are getting angry that tax seems to be but optional for the rich but compulsory for the rest of us.
“Scottish Labour would ban companies who practice aggressive tax avoidance from winning public contracts. We tried to change the law in the last parliament but the SNP voted against our plans.
“Companies get billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money - to supply our hospitals, run our buses and build our schools. A condition of those deals should be if they don’t pay their taxes, they don’t get taxpayers’ money. “
Labour say it will raise awkward questions for the SNP, who voted against the plans in the last parliament, after the party’s millionaire donor Brian Souter saw his company Stagecoach lose an £11 million tax avoidance case.
“The SNP are beginning to look like the party that protects the rich at the expense of the poor,” Ms Dugdale added.
“Are they happy for tax avoiders to receive public funding while public services face huge cuts?
“Faced with the choice between carrying on the cuts or using the powers of the Scottish Parliament, Labour will use the powers to stop the cuts and invest in jobs and services.”