Tag Archives: UKuncut

To (pay) Tax or Not to (pay) Tax….. Aye There is the Rub

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?

How our tax inspectors might look.....

And if all that doesn’t work, well tax evasion in China is punishable by death…

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Thank you UKuncut

these were the words that stopped me shopping in any Philip Green establishment back in October 2010.  And do you know what Top Shop et al I haven’t missed you one little bit.

This was the first time tax dodging on this scale really entered my consciousness.

Hard on the heels came the OUTRAGEOUS HMRC actions to relieve Vodaphone of a £6 billion tax bill.  I can still hardly type the words without frothing at the mouth.

It was this action that lead a group of students to take some direct action and protest outside Vodaphone stores in London, and I am proud to say in Leeds.

Over the past year, I have watched and supported UKuncut as they  have taken to the streets and with wit and invention informed people of the levels of tax avoidance been carried out by large corporations whilst the rest of us had to suffer the savage cuts.  We were not all in this together.  They said.. don’t believe the Government hype.. there is another way.

But I don’t think, when UKuncut turned their attention to the HMRC itself anyone could have predicted the how deep the culture of “sweetheart deals” for corporations such as Vodaphone ran.  Not in this day and age, and when not when services to the poor and elderly were being so savagely cut.

UKuncut highlighted that the Permanent Undersecretary for Tax Dave Harnett had a very “cosy” relationship with the bosses of major corporations, coming top in the league of most “wined and Dined” civil servant.  He has later admitted he “shook hands” on the Goldman Sachs deal that let them off £20 million in tax on bonuses.  It is like something from a Dickensian novel not modern-day, when we are supposed to be ruled by transparency, procedure and accountability.  The man at the top of the tree at the HMRC was shaking hands of deals to let billionaires off their taxation responsibilities.  My belief has been completely beggared.

Due to pressure from UKuncut and from the whistleblower Osita Mba, a revenue solicitor, who first alerted Parliament to the Goldman Sachs deal, Dave Harnett has now “retired” but a 170 page cross parliamentary report on Tuesday has further established a systemic failure at the HMRC to deal with large corporations tax liabilities

So I say thank you UKuncut for your tireless work.  On Tuesday even the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail were taking up the cause.  And we all know what happens when Daily Mail readers get morally outraged!  This is a job, incredibly and brilliantly well done.

And it just goes to show, if we all stand up and make our voices heard.. we can change things, we can make a difference.  We are living in exciting times.

 

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