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PM targets corporate tax avoidance

David Cameron has called for a tougher approach to large companies who use "fancy corporate lawyers" to "endlessly reduce" their tax bills.

The Prime Minister said the Government is considering introducing a new power to prevent tax avoidance by big firms and the wealthiest individuals.

Speaking to leaders of small and medium-sized businesses - many of whom are angry about forthcoming spot checks on their paperwork by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) - Mr Cameron said that bigger companies had to pay their "fair share".

His Liberal Democrat deputy, Nick Clegg, indicated earlier that he would be urging Chancellor George Osborne to introduce anti-avoidance measures in this year's Budget.

At his first PM Direct event of 2012, in Maidenhead, the Prime Minister said HMRC had to collect in "a fair and business-friendly way".

"They have got to be thinking about being business-friendly to small businesses," he said. "With the large companies, that have the fancy corporate lawyers and the rest of it, I think we need a tougher approach.

"One of the things that we are going to be looking at this year is whether there should be a general anti-avoidance power that HMRC can use, particularly with very wealthy individuals and with the bigger companies, to make sure they pay their fair share."

Mr Cameron said he had worked in "corporate Britain" and knew how companies "use the complexity of the tax and legal system to try and endlessly reduce their tax payments".

"Of course it's right for companies to be able to plan and have predictability and the rest of it, but they should be paying a fair tax rate," he added.

Opening the discussion, the Prime Minister warned that 2012 was going to be a "difficult year" but insisted the Government would not simply "stand back".

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