The chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has delivered a hard-hitting speech in which he condemns individuals and companies who work with accountants to reduce their tax burden legally as being the same as tax evaders. Mr Alexander was speaking as he unveiled plans to spend £900 million to tackle anyone who avoids paying their “fair share” of taxes, whether by legal means or otherwise. He stated his intention that such individuals and companies “will no longer get away with it”.

Mr Alexander has taken the view that evasion and avoidance is one and the same, labelling both “morally indefensible” and “unacceptable” particularly in light of the current state of the economy.

During his speech, Mr Alexander stated that avoidance and evasion is equivalent to “stealing money from your neighbours” and that such behaviour has become a “lifestyle choice that is socially acceptable”.

Despite the huge sums being invested in tackling avoidance and evasion, Mr Alexander, together with Chancellor George Osborne, believe that it will reap rewards financially for the state with an expected annual return by 2014-15 of £7bn.

Mr Alexander continued: “We will be ruthless with those often wealthy people and businesses who think they can treat paying tax as an optional extra.”

He said that they will be tackling those who avoid paying higher rate taxes and HMRC will continue their campaign to recover taxes from money sheltered offshore.

In conclusion to his tough speech, Mr Alexander said: “To those who think the taxman will never come knocking. To those who hire accountants to dream up a clever new tax dodge. I say this: Think again.”

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