Isn\’t this fun about tax?

Attempts by the Barclay brothers, owners of the Daily Telegraph, to obtain a £1bn VAT windfall from the British taxpayer, are leading to criticism of the way their offshore commercial empire is structured.

See what they\’re doing there?

Asking to have back tax which has previously been overpaid is a \”windfall\” now.

Yet the Barclays are engaged in a lengthy legal battle to obtain a £1bn VAT refund. They claim they are entitled to compound interest on a tax rebate stretching back 30 years, on behalf of the Littlewoods catalogue group which they took over in 2002.

The original refund of £204m has long been paid to them, along with a cheque for £268m in simple interest. But the twins have taken their claim for a huge extra payoff as far as the European court of justice.

And of course we get the now mandatory Ritchiebollocks:

Richard Murphy, from the Tax Justice Network, told the BBC that trusts set up by the Barclays met offshore: \”These meetings are taking place in Monaco, but there is no doubt that sitting right in the middle of the meetings are the Barclay brothers who are therefore able to exercise control of these companies.\”

What aggravates is that these cunts are trying to overturn the rule of law.

The Barclay\’s might be based offshore. Non-resident, non-domiciled, I dunno, whatever. Managing their empire through Monaco perhaps. But all of that is irrelevant to the Littlewoods case.

The only thing relevant there is, well, is compound interest payable on a tax overpayment? And no, not under UK law, but under EU law? If it is so payable then Littlewoods should be paid it. If it isn\’t it shouldn\’t. Who owns Littlewoods is irrelevant. As is their tax status.

This is what the rule of law means: that the law gets followed whoever it is that it\’s being applied to.

But as you can see from the way they\’re framing this that\’s not what these bastards think. Because we don\’t like the Barclays therefore Littlewoods should not get the interest. Bugger the law, they\’re bad \’uns so hang \’em.

There is an area of English law where who you are does matter: the old and now abolished Court of Equity. Where you really could make the argument \”But it\’s not fair!\”. At which point everyone\’s allowed to look at everything and if you\’re a bad \’un you\’re going to have a terrible time making your case. But that\’s not where they are.

And just as the law protects me and you from the Courageous State so it protects the Barclays: and Abu Hookhand and the Belmarsh prisoners and all the rest. Because that\’s what the rule of law means.

Aidan Barclay added that the Littlewoods directors had obligations to recover as much cash as possible: \”It would be a dereliction of their duties not to pursue repayments which are properly due from HMRC [HM Revenue & Customs].\”

Quite.

4 comments on “Isn\’t this fun about tax?

  1. The government ought to be running scared because having to pay compound interest on their incompetence has huge implications.

    By the same token, the Barclay brothers are fighting the good fight for all of us. Or they would be if someone actually got punished for this screw up or if the government changed its ways. As it turns out no one will get punished, nothing will change, and we will have to pay. But nevertheless, we ought to encourage them in this fight.

    And Ritchie, of course, is full of it.

  2. Tim,

    while the courts of equity have been abolished the High Court still has equitable jurisdiction. That is what allows the courts to issue injunctions and accounts of profits etc. Those are equitable remedies.

    I think the principle you are referring to is that if you are applying for equitable releif you must do so with “clean hands”, and yes it is true that the overarching principle of equity is justice and fairness rather than the black letter of the law.

    There are specific rules about who can seek equitable releif so for example the Tax Justice Network could not apply for any equitable releif because they have not sufferred any loss.

    Sorry to be a bit lawyerly but equity is a very important area of the law and it isn’t really fair to libel is this way.

  3. I agree with you, Tim, but Barclay is talking out of his arse. The company isn’t a plc, so the directors’ duty is to act as the shareholders wish. If you own a (private) limited company, you may run it for whatever ends you wish, and are under no obligation to attempt to maximise profits (and hence no obligation to minimise tax payments or maximise refunds).

  4. Just stop buying their paper or supporting their businessness, stop moaning they are too powerful to fight !! The great dictators!

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