Cameron warns companies must 'pay fair share' of taxes


British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a session of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos. Cameron said today that Britain was not turning its back on Europe, after angering his EU partners by announcing plans for a referendum on membership. AFP

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned Thursday that corporations must "pay their fair share" of taxes and said he would use Britain's G8 chairmanship to counter tax avoidance.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Cameron said too many global businesses were abusing tax schemes, after Britain last year announced a crackdown on multinationals such as Starbucks, Google and Amazon that it claims are avoiding huge tax bills.

"When some businesses aren't seen to pay their taxes that is corrosive to public trust," Cameron said in a speech to the global political and business elite. "We want to use the G8 to drive a more serious debate on tax evasion and avoidance. This is an issue whose time has come," he said.

He said Britain would use its chairmanship this year of the Group of Eight richest nations to push for cross-border action on tax avoidance. "Clamp down in one country and the travelling caravan of lawyers, accountants and financial gurus just moves on elsewhere. So we need to act together at the G8," Cameron said. He insisted such moves were not anti-business.

"I believe in low taxes... I'm a low-tax Conservative. But I'm not a companies-should-pay-no-tax Conservative," Cameron said. "Individuals and businesses must pay their fair share." Britain last month announced a campaign against "tax dodgers" and "cowboy advisers" to claw back £2 billion (2.4 billion euros/$3.2 billion) a year, after lawmakers alleged that multinationals were involved in "immoral" avoidance of tax.

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