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Tax Avoidance

 

War has been declared on tax evasion – and tax avoidance. The problem is that the two are being willfully conflated by both the government and by some newspapers – most egregiously by the Times. Neither should be allowed to get away with this is as there is an important principle at stake – and it’s called The Law.


Evasion is plain criminal. You know that you are legally required to pay something to the government and you try not to. It is stealing. Avoidance is trying to pay the least amount you can within the law. This might involve some convoluted scheme to stay within the law and there might be grey areas that are tested – but it is not a crime and nor should it be. One of the principle tasks of a government is to draft laws that are clear and without ambiguity using all the skills of the very best legal brains at their disposal. If they are not doing this then the government is incompetent – pure and simple. If cleverer legal brains find loopholes then the government has to go back to the drawing board and plug those loopholes. That is their job.


When you hear talk about making avoidance a crime you know that there is laziness and sloppy thinking going on – and it should be the task of the better quality press to hold the government to account and not let them get away with it – and certainly not join in like the Times. Most - the vast majority - of taxpayers just want certainty and fairness  - and the ‘anti avoidance’ cry is the enemy of certainty. Making tax planning virtually impossible cannot be a good way to make the UK a place that is good for businesses – the businesses that ultimately will pay the taxes that everyone knows need to be generated to make a fist of balancing our public books. That is this sort of cheap populism is coming from a Conservative government is pretty shocking – but then you remember that it is a coalition and this is just the sort of irresponsible shot that Vince Cable is so good at. David Cameron and George Osborne should know better

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