UK Politics

Lib Dem conference: Tax avoidance crackdown 'on track'

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Media captionDanny Alexander: "The small minority of wealthy people who don't play by the rules will pay their fair share"

The government is "on track" to raise £4bn this year via schemes to crack down on tax dodgers, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said.

The Lib Dems have pledged to raise £9bn by tackling tax avoidance by 2015.

Mr Alexander promised to get more from the "small minority of wealthy people who don't play by the rules".

The number of staff dealing with tax-evasion in Liechtenstein will be doubled as part of a crackdown on those "hiding" assets in offshore havens.

At the 2010 conference, Mr Alexander announced £900m in extra resources for Revenue & Customs to identify and pursue tax dodgers, both in the UK and those with offshore interests.

'Good progress'

In an update on the issue, Mr Alexander said the UK was making "good progress" which "we should all be proud of".

"Fair taxes in tough times means everyone playing by the same rule book, and everyone paying their fair share," he said.

"We have this message to the small minority of wealthy people who don't play by the rules.

"We are coming to get you and you will pay your fair share."

The last Labour government signed a deal with Liechtenstein in 2009 to recover lost tax from British nationals holding bank accounts in the Alpine tax haven.

Up to 5,000 British investors are thought to have secret accounts.

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Media captionDiscussion between surgeon Iain Simpson and photographer Andy Scaysbrook

Since 2009, they have been offered the chance to volunteer details of their deposits in return for penalties, capped at 10% of tax evaded over the past 10 years.

Mr Alexander said the last government expected the agreement to raise £1bn but the coalition now believed it would yield £3bn and it was devoting extra manpower to oversee the process.

More broadly, the Treasury Secretary insisted there must be no let-up in austerity measures, saying the commitment to fiscal discipline was the "foundation" on which the UK economy is built.

But he said the government would use the strength of its balance sheet to support investment in infrastructure, initially guaranteeing the delivery of new rolling stock for Crossrail.

Earlier, the Lib Dem conference voted to re-emphasise the party's commitment to a "mansion tax".

This says that any value above £2m on a home must be subject to a 1% annual charge.