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 63.

    David Cameron received a significant inheritance from his father who engaged in aggressive tax avoidance schemes - he was actually proud of it. It would be a very grand gesture if David Cameron were to make a one off payment of (say) 40% of his inheritance to the treasury to prove once and for all that "we are all in this together". I for one will not be holding my breath for any such gesture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    61.Strictly Pickled


    "When an aide asked Brown what he did on holiday he replied I finished a book ...."
    Brown wrote a book called "Courage" which given his macavity style and poor interpersonal skills is an absurd title. Perhaps someone at your dinner parties has read it"

    Oh come on, SP. I'm sure someone at one of bryhers' dinner parties wrote it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.


    "When an aide asked Brown what he did on holiday he replied I finished a book ...."
    Did he then say "No more book and bust" ?

    Brown wrote a book called "Courage" which given his macavity style and poor interpersonal skills is an absurd title. Perhaps someone at your dinner parties has read it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    The majority of people (including those who sell tax avoidance schemes) will have no issues with their being a register of who the real owners of companies are.

    So why is UK govt proposing that this register should be secret and not public?

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Global infrastructure-spend
    Rationally decided by 'minimum tax', by Laffer on unequal incomes?

    Democratic control of 'investment decisions' would bring allocations responsive to feedback (needs & preferences), directly felt by all, monitored btwn regions & generations. Many spheres - discretionary or blue-skies - 'profit' a guide to investment (preference or modulation). Many need dem. judgement

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Leaders or followers?

    Recognising need for growth - amount, distribution, quality, intimately related - comes down to recognising need for 'democratic' control of investment decisions (by resources & logistics), recognising need for equal citizenship (votes & income-shares) for all - including leaders in every sphere, every level - to be free in conscience to pursue own good WITHIN general good

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Beg pardon. Did raise tax though - at bottom end - so what you are refering to is a 'net' effect. And still beneficial long term.

    That said, on PAs, I actually felt that was wrong on basis it was inequitable. Was really politicians appearing to do something to tax h/earners: the £150K+ pa, while not actually doing it.

    Tax reform, imv, should have everyone start from the same point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    #50 AndyC555
    "Because that's the income range where the marginal tax/NI rate is 62%"

    So it sounds like a specific problem related to a specific income band?

    If you stash the £21k into a pension fund, doesn't that get taxed when you draw on it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.


    Missing my point. The withdrawal of PAs was not done to promote pension contributions. It was done to raise tax. Besides pensions are just ONE way to avoid the inequity of the 62% band.

    The withdrawal of PAs was a product of the dumb "if we raise tax rates we increase tax take" mentality.

    There IS a pension save limit. Reduced from £325k (under Labour) to £50k by Osborne

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.


    GB called 1 member of the public a bigot.....

    ....your other comment is utterly risible.....

    ....this is a man who thinks nothing of his himself & his Ministers obfuscating over the truth & whose party call their own supporters swivel eyed loons...!!!


  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    @50 Andy
    62% band has hugely distorted income planning. It was supposed to raise more tax. It hasn't.
    You overlook:
    1. benefits of pension saving
    2. eventually income growth takes 'that taxpayer' further into band where rate it does raise tax for Treasury, and,
    3. pension offset rules could be changed by CoEs and often are.

    A simple pension save limit, for ex, would have sufficed in 3.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.


    Gordon Brown presided over a bust economy and called the electorate bigots so he is not a role model for PM's.

    David Cameron is impressive and obviously well educated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    48 AlphaPhantom

    Yet another armchair analyst, if 8 world leaders cannot come to some agreements then there is not hope for the world.

    They will make progress, and they are doing something, the usual suspect naysayers would have us sit back and watch in despair, doing nothing, that's the easy way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    any particular reason that it was set in such a narrow income range?
    What happens when you earn £121,000 pa?"

    Because that's the income range where the marginal tax/NI rate is 62%

    Many at £121k put 21k into their pensions. Or shift income where they can (to wives/children)

    The 62% band has hugely distorted income planning. It was supposed to raise more tax. It hasn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Dithering over Syria will probably lead to a middle east wide conflict and another Israeli - Arab war - USA involvement then will be rather more than supplying a few cases of weapons to the rebels. What is the common factor - religion and its many varieties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Once again world leaders demonstrate their inability to lead on matters that affect the world.

    This is a very tiny and negligible step towards resolving tax evasion/avoidance.

    It changes nothing for the Syria crisis.

    Days of talking funded by tax payers to achieve very little. Not value for money at all. This says it all for humanity's future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    What to do about Syria eh? Well the one thing we shouldn't do is put weapons into the hands of the next generation of terrorists, currently mascarading as 'rebels.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Maybe they'll agree to reasonable RATES of tax for the rich and their corporations.

    And maybe, the West will get out of Moslem lands and stop making trouble there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Left to sherpas, 'possible wording' for a 'possible statement', reflecting inability - or in-the-time failure - to 'accept' each other's concerns, to gain from each other's 'take on reality', to arrive at a 'representative' structure for urgent talks in Geneva, with ALL material powers, with fair refereeing, allowed or 'made' to share responsibility for making a start, even if 'only' a cease-fire

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Yesterday 'in search of moderates', today no escaping lowest common denominator. All for second helpings of anti-terrorism & tax evasion - or anti-tax evasion? Until the break of 'scandalous avoidance', in midst of 'austerity & threat to most', leaders were 'intensely relaxed' on unequal distribution of work & reward & power, oblivious of its dangers. Failing still, even in retrospect.


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