It would be hard for anyone to have missed the news about Jimmy Carr and his tax avoidance scheme this week, and despite there being over a 1,000 people connected to the K2 scheme operating out of Jersey, it was his name and face splashed all over the media last week. Maybe I am too cynical but I wondered about the Establishment connections of those other 999 anonymous beneficiaries, and how their names had been kept out of the paper.
Now anyone who knows me, or indeed has read my previous blogs knows of my deep admiration and support of the work that UKuncut does to highlight the despicable actions of highly profitable businesses such as Goldman Sachs and Vodaphone, who engage in large and wholesale schemes to avoid paying their true corporation tax bill in full. Indeed along with the tax affairs of billionaire Philip Green so eloquently put by Jon Richardson on Have I Got News for You in October 2010 (see the UKuncut blog highlighted above to watch that again), I do feel some moral repugnance that highly successful companies making huge profits from UK tax payers should dodge, albeit in “legal” ways their taxation responsibilities.
David Cameron waded into the debate to express his moral outrage at Jimmy Carr, again demonstrating his shockingly bad eye for detail. How on earth can the Conservative leader condemn anyone for this activity when his own previous Deputy Party Chairman, Lord Ashcroft was not UK domiciled for tax purposes. It took the levels of hypocrisy to almost satirical levels. He also didn’t condemn Gary Barlow who up until the point of Tuesday’s tax scheme revelations was on course for National Treasure status. Much was made of Gary Barlow’s work campaigning with the Torys in 2010.
So I have a plan and George Osborne or Ed Balls, who ever to wants to use this, you can have it for free.
I believe very strongly that everyone should pay their fair share of tax. Fact.
I believe that the majority of people are very hard-working, and probably working harder than ever.
I also can understand that if you are a higher rate tax payer you don’t want to have to give away 50% of your income to the Government. If you earn a million pounds I can completely understand you will take action not to pay nearly half of that in income tax.
So why don’t we just have a flat rate of tax? Say at 25%. Surely a Government doesn’t need anymore than a quarter of someone’s income. This would give an incentive to the higher rate tax payers to pay their full obligation, and thus leading actually to an increase in income tax revenues.
But exchange for that I think there needs to be a moral sea-change on the view of tax avoidance. It needs to become like drink driving socially UNACCEPTABLE. If you, and yes I am talking to captains of industry like you Philip Green, if you want to work and earn fantastical sums in this country you need to be domiciled here, and make your contribution to our society.
My final point to make Tax Inspectors sexy. Well maybe that is too much to ask for but to beef up their status and their powers. Pay them a decent rate and retain the best of them, don’t let them go to the accountancy firms engaging in tax avoidance schemes that are only this side of the law. Don’t let them turn from game-keeper to poacher. Have Elliott Ness has their hero. After all the only way Al Capone was finally brought to account was from his tax return wasn’t it?
And if all that doesn’t work, well tax evasion in China is punishable by death…