Monday, 20 May 2013

UK Tax avoidance hoo-ha

No IT today, time for a good old-fashioned moan about the government.

Over the last few months, the bureaucratic plonkers in Westminster have been waxing lyrical about how big business is avoiding UK taxes through 100% legal loopholes in our convoluted tax system. Barely a day goes by where some MP isn't regurgitating the same old rhetoric about Amazon, or Google or any other successful business that engages in these practises, calling them evil and immoral and feigning outrage on behalf of the average Joe who's belt is being continually tightened while big business funnels all it's profits overseas.
Now, I'm not saying they're wrong, but everyone seems to be missing the point here.
 Firstly, whenever you hear a Tory MP bleat about the taxpayer being ripped off by these practices, remind yourself that there is a very good chance this person is a millionaire, most likely because they're a share holder in a business that is carrying out these very same tax-avoidance magic tricks. Their championing of the cause is less likely to be out of concern for the average UK citizen, and more to do with scoring some badly needed points with the public. The same thing has been said by so many MPs, it makes you wonder if they're passing a script around.
 Secondly, no successful, smartly-managed business in the world pays more tax than they absolutely have to. I'm sure there are plenty that don't get involved in tax avoidance, but I'd be willing to bet that the number of companies who realise what they can save through tax avoidance but then say "nah, that would be highly immoral/evil of me, I couldn't possibly do that" is very, very small indeed.

The problem is not that these companies are taking advantage of loopholes in the tax system to save themselves some cash, the problem is that these loopholes exist at all. The UK has the most convoluted tax system in the world and I doubt there is a tax system in existence that doesn't have some kind of loopholes in it. But rather than wasting time going on the BBC and repeatedly moaning about CompanyX not paying more tax than they have to (seriously, why are they so surprised that companies want to pay as little tax as possible?), the Government should be pushing through some hasty reform to close said loopholes.

I'm not suggesting a complete reform of the entire tax system should be done tomorrow, such an undertaking would take years to concoct by individuals far more intelligent than I, but a few amendments to close the gaping chasms in the current system wouldn't go amiss and would serve to reduce the amount of money that is being kept from the tax man that could otherwise be spent on Tory vanity projects and controversial nuclear deterrents, but that's another argument for another day.

 Let's get the money first then start arguing about what it will be used for.

No comments:

Post a Comment