Chuka Umunna has received a £2,500 donation from a firm which advises its clients on how to swerve HMRC rules to help them avoid tax. Signature Tax paid the sum two weeks ago, with the money “received through the Labour Party to support the office of Chuka Umunna”.
According to their website, Signature Tax specialise in “non-DOTAS tax schemes”, structures designed to avoid HMRC’s Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes regulations, which require those using tax avoidance schemes to inform the taxman. Accountancy Age explains how non-DOTAS schemes offered by Chuka’s donor bend the rules:
“Some of the (tax avoidance) promoters who used DOTAS numbers as tacit approval from HMRC initially, are now promoting schemes outside the DOTAS system. Some promoters are looking hard at their product lines and designing versions that escape the rules. Those rules have become so prescriptive, advisers say, that the longer they become, the easier they are to find holes in. For example, class action group Rebus claims to know of at least two promoters looking for non-DOTAS versions of old products.”
Signature Tax’s website also offers advice on “off shore” tax arrangements. Chuka has been a staunch opponent of such schemes, famously grilling former Barclay’s boss Bob Diamond over his bank’s offshore subsidiaries and urging him to close them down.
And who can forget when he called “on the chancellor to close in on tax avoidance, close in on tax loopholes and deliver greater tax justice.” Adding that: “It is time to close in on tax avoiders, recoup public money and ensure everyone in society pays their fair share.”
In light of this new information about his donor, will Chuka give the money back to avoid any allegations of massive hypocrisy?