JEREMY CORBYN called today for an investigation into a scheme on the Isle of Man allegedly helping buyers of almost 1,000 private business jets avoid paying tax.
The Labour leader demanded that Theresa May during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) trigger a probe by HM Revenue and Customs into the allegations of VAT avoidance linked to buyers of 957 aircraft who funnelled their purchases through the tax haven island.
It should be part of a wider effort to crack down on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion worth up to a staggering £119 billion of lost revenue for the government, he said.
The 957 jets on the Isle of Man — each costing up to £40 million — “seem a bit excessive for any island anywhere,” Mr Corbyn argued.
Buyers who register their aircraft on the Isle of Man are not liable to pay any corporation, capital, wealth or insurance premium taxes, starving schools and hospitals of much-needed funds.
The Corporate Jet Investor website has claimed that the island is treated as part of the EU for VAT and customs duty purposes and aircraft can be imported through it to make use of these tax structures.
The then-Labour government of 2010 assisted HMRC in shutting down a similar scheme offered on the Isle of Man which was used to help import yachts into the EU without paying taxes, Mr Corbyn told MPs.
He continued: “Estimates of the scale of tax-dodging range from £34bn, which is around the size of our schools budget, to £119bn, which is the size of the NHS budget.
“The Isle of Man VAT avoidance allegations are part of a wider leak from the Bermuda-based law firm, said to be on a similar scale to the Panama Papers.”
The PM said that HMRC takes allegations of tax avoidance “seriously,” adding that the government had clawed back almost £160bn through tackling tax evasion and avoidance since 2010.
Mr Corbyn later asked Ms May to assure MPs that HMRC would get more resources to “tackle the scourge of aggressive tax avoidance and evasion” rather than suffer more cuts in this month’s Budget.
He also challenged the PM to “change the rules” in the Budget to generate more cash for public services, before claiming the amount of tax paid by the “super-rich” has fallen from £4.4bn to £3.5bn since 2009.
Mr Corbyn said to Tory heckles: “Our schools budgets are being cut, more people are waiting longer for treatment on the NHS, more elderly and disabled not getting the social care they need.
“Does the Prime Minister think it is acceptable that when it comes to paying taxes, there’s one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest of us?”