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Barclays to shutter its tax avoidance scheme

Here’s one I didn’t actually believe at first: High Street giant Barclays has plans to shutter the doors on its tax avoidance scheme  – and voluntarily, too!

Rumour has it that Barclays will make the announcement that, in the wake of a ‘strategic review,’ it will shut down part of its Structured Capital Markets scheme. Considering how much trouble the banking giant has already gotten into over the past year or so with different scandalous endeavours coming to light, I’m sure that the decision to eliminate a programme specifically designed to help some businesses avoid paying their fair share of tax to HM Revenue & Customs is most likely a shrewd move – or at least the kind of ‘no-brainer’ that a bank desperate to revamp its public image would make.

And let’s be honest: Barclays’ reputation is in an absolute shambles, especially in the wake of the massive Libor-fixing scandal that broke in 2012. That particular gem cost the bank £290 million in fines – and rightly so, if you ask me – and the bank has also had to put aside the weighty sum of almost £3.5 billion in order to make PPI mis-selling payouts, so the banking giant is clearly not having an easy time of it in the least.

Antony Jenkins, the new chief executive that inherited the horrid mess from ousted former chief Bob Diamond, has been working overtime to spin public opinion towards where the bank is going since he came aboard back in July than where it had went under Diamond’s leadership, and this newest move is undoubtedly exactly the kind of movement that the public needs to see in order to reform the bank’s image. Actions do indeed speak louder than words, and for what it’s worth I’m rather pleased to see real changes being instituted instead of just lip service being played to stamping out corruption and poor business practices.

Choosing to eliminate any schemes that were used to mitigate tax liabilities on businesses is definitely a fantastic choice in my opinion, as this is most certainly registering strongly on the public’s radar at the moment, what with the General Anti-Abuse Rule going into effect next month. GAAR is of course more tuned towards handling the misappropriations of tax revenue on the part of public sector contractors, but the truth is that HMRC misses out on billions of pounds a year due to tax avoidance, so reducing the possibility of this happening not only improves Barclays’ image but can also help the economy as well.

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