What will G8 do about Syria and taxes?

Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, David Cameron and Barack Obama attend working session of the G8 summit

The G8 is likely to reach agreement on Syria today, Downing Street believes, although the exact wording of any statement is still the subject of tense negotiations.

The issue which is causing most difficulties is what the G8 should say about the transition to a new Syrian government after any new round of peace negotiations.

President Putin has already signed up to the idea of what are known as the Geneva Two talks but is thought to be resisting wording which suggests that it is inevitable that Syria's President Assad will be replaced.

While the G8 leaders focus on tax this morning, their "sherpas" - summit jargon for officials - are hammering out possible wording of a statement on Syria. The areas on which the G8 seems likely to agree are :

  • Increased humanitarian aid and international agreement to facilitate access for organisations like the Red Cross
  • Combating jihadists within the Syrian rebel movement
  • Opposition to the use of chemical weapons (albeit that Russia does not accept that there is clear evidence that the regime has used them)

On the issue of tax transparency, Downing Street predicts that, while there will be agreement to produce registers of who really owns companies (so-called "beneficial ownership"), not all G8 countries will agree to publish such information - a key demand of aid organisations.

Chancellor George Osborne told BBC Radio 4 this morning that the UK government was consulting on whether to do this anyway. He claimed that more progress had been made in the past 24 hours than in the past 24 years.

Although many tax campaigners will complain that the expected G8 deal does not go far enough, most concede that the discussions here mark a turning point in the campaign to expose tax criminality and to pressurise global corporations to pay more tax in the countries where they make their profits.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    As you are a Laffer enthusiast there must be a case for a temporary 60% top tax rate"

    I'm not an 'enthusiast', just accept the logic that there is an optimal rate of tax if you want to optimise the tax take.

    There IS already a 60% marginal rate if you earn between £100k & c£119k. I can confirm it is counter productive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    @9 Andy
    Not just a political mistake, a cashflow one at a time of squeezed incomes. I reckon it cost HMT about £4bn. What would you estimate?

    As you are a Laffer enthusiast there must be a case for a temporary 60% top tax rate at a time such as this to ease the burden lower down and to smooth dreadful marginal situations as peoples' incomes move up the ladder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    On both issues the talk will be talked but there will be no walking. The Syria situation will go on as is until Putin says otherwise both here and in the UN Security Council. It is not remotely similar, in a geopolitical sense, to Bosnia, although I expect the casualty rates will be even higher. On taxes, the UK hasn't got a leg to stand on, the money laundering capital of the world, thanks NuLab

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    @19 sieuarlu
    Not so sure about that. Russia (Putin especially) is not too keen on Muslim factions. They would want to stop Syria becoming an 'Islamified' State.

    Russia's past involvement has, of course, also been with one eye on Israel and another on Egypt and the US/UK hegemony in the Gulf during the Cold War.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Do the UK and Russia share aims on Syria? No way. The UK wants to topple the Assad gov't and replace it with a democratically elected government that will retain democracy. It won't get that. Russia wants Assad to retain power and for things to continue as they were with Syria as a client state and providing a naval base no matter how many people are killed. He won't get what he wants either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Question - What have our politicians done about the City and banker's bonuses?

    The banking crisis was in 2008 and five years later we are still waiting for the government to act on this, despite daily revelations about LIBOR manipulation, fraud and mis-selling in the financial industry.

    Expect the same level of apathy with corporation tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.


    @2 Andy
    As you ought to know, they set out that minimum each year: it's called The Budget."

    Sorry, that's a bit like saying setting out at the start of the year that I'm going to buy a Ferrari is setting my minimum for car buying that year then overspending by getting an extra key fob.

    We're a Kia economy at the moment. That should be our budget.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    #10 it is a big ? why the BBC are not doing anothing about thier Staff and their aviodance of NI/TAX.
    No mention of STEMCOR and HODGE but they always mention Belisse and Tory Donations.

    Let BBC staff make extra volutionary TAX payements and see what happends


  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    "What will G8 do about Syria and taxes?"

    Talk. What do they always do in these useless meetings? These are old issues. They didn't pop up out of thin air yesterday. There will be lots of photos taken too...for archives. The delegates reportedly discussed Syria over dinner last night. Which ones came away with indigestion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    @2 Andy
    As you ought to know, they set out that minimum each year: it's called The Budget.

    Unfortunately, they overspend and seek to do more & more on top. Think Dave gave away another £375m (think it was new money - Beeb were a bit vague) in aid, weekend before last, while grandstanding at a conference on aid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    As for the other question, sorry can't keep up.

    Who is this Eragon bloke they're talking about? I thought that was a film about a dragon Is it Egypt? Turkey? Or some other God-forsaken sand-blown country where the locals take it in turns to unite to fight the west then turn on and slaughter each other?

    Why we get involved I've no idea. They're never grateful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    the folk who could afford to pay more tax"

    But that's all of us. We COULD. That's the argument they'll use. Live a greyer, more puritan lifestyle and we could afford to pay a little more. Just a little more.

    A tax on this, a tax on that. It's only 'fair'. It's your 'share'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The other big question, on Syria, is about Assad. If I recall correctly, we used to have a relationship with him. I think he studied/trained in the UK & may have worked here for some time. Why was this relationship not cultivated?

    Or was he estranged by the UK's activities in Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    What are the BBC going to do about all the employees who avoid tax with their payment 'vehicles'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    8 - Lowering the top rate to 45% was a political mistake although I doubt financially it makes much difference to the UK.

    What he should have done, I think, is lowered the rate for EARNED income to back 40% and kept the rate for UNEARNED income at 50%.

    I sadly suspect the middle will pay more and more . We're short of tax and they're hoiking up the PA so many pay nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    @7 Andy
    Think there were Chancellors before Osborne & there may be Chancellors after him, perhaps as soon as next winter but more likely after May 2015.

    On your 2nd point, I would agree but he has also loosed the reigns on the folk who could afford to pay more tax while keeping those earning travelling & spending, esp. in the middle, paying more than they can afford.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.


    1997? Osborne only became an MP in 2001.

    To be fair to him, Osborne has done more in 3 years than Labour did in 13 to stop tax avoidance.

    But the chances of you being fair to him are remote, aren't they.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    #4 totally agree need more people like Thatcher and Benn love or hate them they they told it to you how they saw it and you could then make a choice.

    #3 also how about limiting by law %GDP HMG can take in TAX say 38%.and what the DEBT level can be not more than 40% of GDP and illegal to run a deficit

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Another question for the Chancellor would be: if this is a problem now it certainly was in 2010, and for that matter, prior to 1997 when the Conservatives had a more powerful majority in Parliament. Why did you not do anything about it then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    "What will G8 do about Syria and taxes?"

    Does the Govt really care what we think about either? - they'll just do what suits them & their cronies - as they always do.

    Let's just hope that at the next election there are some viable alternatives to the whole cabal that currently reside in the House of Commons


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