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Osborne 'shocked' by amount of tax avoidance by rich

The 20 biggest tax avoiders legally reduced their income tax bills by a total of £145m in a year

10 Apr 2012 Accountancy Age

By Richard Crump

george-osborne-conference

THE CHANCELLOR has said he is "shocked" that some of the wealthiest individuals in the country are paying "virtually no" income tax.

George Osborne told The Telegraph that he has seen "anonymised" tax returns which show that some of highest earners in the UK are able to avoid paying income tax entirely.

A study by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) found that multi-millionaires are using aggressive tax avoidance schemes to reduce their income tax to an average of 10%.

Osborne was not shown the details of the individuals involved, but told The Telegraph that the returns he had seen revealed that the 20 biggest tax avoiders had used three main loopholes to legally reduce their income tax bills by a total of £145m in a year.

The loopholes include writing off business losses, offsetting the cost of business mortgages or borrowing on buy-to-let properties against their income tax bills and taking advantage of tax relief on charitable donantions.

"I was shocked to see that some of the very wealthiest people in the country have organised their tax affairs, and to be fair it's within the tax laws, so that they were regularly paying virtually no income tax. And I don't think that's right," Osborne told The Telegraph.

"I'm talking about people right at the top. I'm talking about people with incomes of many millions of pounds a year.

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