MUMBAI, Feb 18 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David
Cameron said on Monday he did not want to change the law to
outlaw "aggressive tax avoidance", but said the practice raised
moral questions and that multinationals should pay the tax they
Speaking in Mumbai on the first day of a three-day visit to
India, Cameron said his government was doing what it could to
cut corporation taxes and expected companies to reciprocate by
paying their fair share of tax.
"The message to business should be, 'If we are cutting this
rate of tax down to a good low level, you should be paying that
rate of tax, rather than seeking ever more aggressive ways to
avoid it'," he told a group of workers at Hindustan Unilever Ltd
The amount of tax that multinationals pay in Britain has
become a sensitive issue after it was shown that companies such
as Starbucks, Amazon and Google have
been using legal loopholes to sharply cut their tax bill.
Britain, Germany and France called for such loopholes to be
closed internationally at a meeting of the G20 in Moscow last
weekend and London wants to make the issue a centrepiece of its
presidency of the G8 group of nations this year.
On Monday, Cameron questioned the value of making a clear
distinction between tax evasion and tax avoidance.
"I think the problem with that is that there are some forms
of tax avoidance that have become so aggressive that there are
moral questions that we have to answer about whether we want to
encourage or allow that sort of behaviour," he said.
However, Cameron said he didn't think it was right to
legislate on the issue.
"Some would say, 'Just change the law to make aggressive
avoidance illegal', but, with respect to my friends in the
accountancy profession, it is difficult to do that."
"I think there is a legitimate debate to say very aggressive
forms of avoidance are not appropriate."