Even for the pre election stupidity the last few days have been bizarre.
Politicians jumping on bandwagons then trying to defend themselves by spinning on the spot so fast they risk being accused of drilling for oil.
Statements ridiculous even for our politicians, insults, accusations, people being demonised and treated like criminals for the way they deal with their own money.
It’s like they were smokers or on benefits.
So what is this storm in a bucket about. Well in case anyone missed it, HSBC were caught doing dubious things in Switzerland. By which I mean someone went public with lists of names, people who were hiding their cash in a neutral tax haven and HSBC were helping them do it.
Shock at eleven.
Our politicians jumped straight on the case, its not just those big corporations who don’t pay tax, its not just the Amazon.CO.UKs of the world who are cheating the tax man of his dosh, people are doing it as well. The shame, the disgrace this people should be dragged out in public and flogged because hiding money from the tax man is a terrible crime.
Who does your wife work for again Dave?
But here is the problem, it’s not actually a crime.
Whats I hear you shout, but its evil and greedy, its hiding tax from the tax man, its making those hard working tax payers shoulder more of the burden while rich types use accountants to pay no tax.
Yep, not a crime, not against the law, not a criminal offense.
Tax avoidance is legal, it’s the sort of thing any half way decent accountant will suggest to allow you to reduce your tax bill using legal methods by taking advantage of options within our incredibly complex tax system.
Tax evasion is not declaring your income or claiming more expenses that you really have, fiddling the books, all that sort of stuff.
An ISA is tax avoidance, it is using a legal method to save money and lower your tax bill. Millions of people have ISAs. All those SMEs and self employed people, lots of different ways of setting up a company to minimse your tax bill and all completely legal.
But its cheating the tax man you say, these people are criminals.
Nope. It’s not cheating and it’s not a crime. It is in fact simply using the ruddy great loopholes in our tax system to benefit someone other than the big corporations who lobbied and bribed the politicians to get the tax system changed again and again to the point where it is so complex accountants have to specialise.
Why would an accountant do this I hear you ask. Well if you went to a book a holiday and asked the agent for a week in a five star hotel on golden beaches with warm water for swimming and then ended up in a tin shack on a gravel beach watching the snow fall on the ice flows bobbing in the sea would you ever use that person again.
Accounts are the same, they offer you a good deal so you go back to them next year.
Anyway back to our politicians. If a person is guilty of Tax Evasion, that's a crime and they deserve to be punished, but there are an awful lot of people who are guilty of Tax Avoidance which is not a crime and yet they are also being demonised and insulted and accused of being nasty ugly people stealing candy from children.
But all Tax Avoiders are doing is acting on the legal advice of accountants. In fact some of those celebrities who are being charged with not paying taxes because they invested in schemes to fund movies were breaking no laws and if that ends up in court it will get messy. Tax evasion is a crime, Tax Avoidance, well according to one of the Tories rich donors, everyone does it.
But there are criminals here, Tax Avoidance does have guilty parties. There are those who should be named and shamed for the tax man getting less money than he should and for straining government finances.
Those criminals are our politicians.
Yep, shocker that one.
The problem here is not Tax Avoidance. Rather it is the entire tax system which is overly complex and riddled with rot and instability. Like a mouldy lump of that cheese that is full of holes, wait, isn't that from Switzerland as well.
If our politicians actually had a problem with Tax avoidance, if they genuinely cared and weren't just spouting yet more hot air in the pre-election male cow dropping contest then they could change the tax laws.
A significant simplification, close the loopholes. Make the system easy enough that normal people could understand it.
Never happen though. Because that would stop the corporations playing games and paying a tiny fraction of their income in tax by having head offices in tax haven countries (which is Legal). No politician is going to rock that boat, they are too well bribed for that, the entire system is too corrupt to allow enough votes to push through an honest tax system.
So it’s business as usual, politicians spouting hot air, lies and twisted statistics. Picking people to blame to distract the voting public from the political system, hate them, fear them, they are worse than us because.........
Must be an election coming up.