(The Independent) -- A new scandal allowing hundreds of private jet owners to dodge tax by funnelling purchases through the Isle of Man must be investigated, Jeremy Corbyn says.
The Labour leader confronted Theresa May over claims that a staggering 957 business jets had been imported through the tiny island, following a data leak on the scale of the Panama Papers.
And he claimed the revelation exposed a Government that allowed the “super-rich” to escape paying taxes – starving schools and hospitals of badly-needed funds.
“Nine hundred and fifty seven business jets in the Isle of Man seems a bit excessive for any island anywhere,” Mr Corbyn said, during Prime Minister’s Questions.
He accused the Government of blocking a French-led proposal that would have placed Bermuda on an EU tax haven blacklist.
And he pointed to the recently-announced European Commission probe into alleged special treatment given to multinational firms by the British Government and its tax authorities.
Meanwhile, the amount of income tax paid by the super-rich had plunged from £4.4bn to £3.5bn since 2009.
“When it comes to paying taxes there's one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest of us,” the Labour leader protested.
In response, Ms May did not refer to the Isle of Man scandal, with damning newspaper revelations expected in the next few weeks.
Instead, she defended the Government’s wider record, insisting it had raised £160bn since 2010 from clampdowns on tax evasion and avoidance.
“We have been leading the world, the Prime Minister claimed. “It was a Conservative prime minister that put this on the agenda of the G7 and the G20 – international action against tax avoidance and tax evasion.”
The clash comes as the Isle of Man government braces itself for the revelations, which are expected to thrust the secret deals of wealthy clients into the open.
A data leak involving an offshore-based law firm called Appleby is currently being investigated by a number of broadcasters and newspapers.
The key allegation is that aircraft buyers have been using the Isle of Man for abusive tax avoidance schemes.
An Isle of Man government spokesman has acknowledged that jets can be imported to the EU through the Isle of Man, obtaining a 100 per cent refund if the aircraft is purely for business purposes.
However, he denied that the scheme was illegal, arguing the United Kingdom has a similar structure in place.
The 2015 leak of the Panama Papers triggered a huge international row, revealing how shell corporations were being used to hide fraud, tax evasion and the flouting of international sanctions.
A total of 11.5m documents were revealed, containing detailed financial information about nearly 215,000 offshore organisations, some dating back to the 1970s.