What a wonderful whine this is

Setting aside the fact that HMRC has already begun to review certain tax arrangements on the Isle of Man, it’s a question that seems as ridiculous now as it was in 2013. Because if there is one big lesson from the Paradise Papers, it’s that currently legal tax avoidance by certain companies and individuals has been shown to be as antisocial, immoral and unfair as many of the arrangements that are banned.

The correct reading of this is “I believe that” antisocial, immoral and unfair and “I’m seriously pissed that everyone else doesn’t.”

Especially as this is from the Guardian’s head of investigations who has just spent a year trawling through those Paradise Papers to find nothing of any great moment.

11 comments on “What a wonderful whine this is

  1. Nick’s main point was that he’s dones his part now over to you. Shining light on the obscure laws that security services operate under is no bad thing and you kind of do need investigative journalists to do that. Then you can ride the wave of newly enlightened public opinion to change the law if necessary. With tax i suspect the changes of the law should be on the simplification side so there’s less nooks and crannies that you need specialists to discover and subsequently more specialists to uncover.

  2. You just know that they assumed there’d be something really juicy in that terabyte of documents.

    You can hear them now…”There’s so much evidence, and business is corrupt… there’ll be dozens of great stories here”.

    And in the end… fuck all, aside from some BBC luvvies and Lewis Hamilton.

  3. I went to a talk by Eric Beinhocker last week and he made an interesting point about fairness. I’ve always dismissed it as childish and green eyed monster stuff, but there is some research that shows it comes from our evolutionary past and is built in. It goes like this:

    For family or small groups up to about 150 people, equality of outcome is quite high on the agenda. Give a family a cake and everyone should get their fair share based on outcome not what they deserve. Above that number people are quite happy for sharing to be done on what people have done to deserve their greater share.

    Apparently when these norms are broken it lights up an area of the brain in the cortex which is often referred to as the lizard brain and it gives us an irrational stimulus.

    So people are quite happy that Bill Gates is super wealthy because he’s seen to deserve it from what he’s given us, but those going to great lengths to avoid taxes or bankers/hedge fund managers are seen as undeserving (because we can’t see what they do that adds value?). This lights up the lizard brain and people are quite irrational about their response, hence the term fairness.

    We’ve known this effect for some time with the ultimatum game where wealthy people will refuse what they see as a paltry offer from someone who was undeserving of their share in order to punish them. (It doesn’t work with the poor).

    Of course, politicians being politicians can play on this rather than explain what’s going on.

    I suppose this also goes to something Tim points out about Scandinavian countries, especially Denmark. High taxes and spending are seen as acceptable because they are predominantly local and people can see what is deserved and what isn’t and so equality of outcome is more acceptable. With centralised welfare we can’t see what’s going on so those even at the bottom end who are seen as cheats will be punished just as much as the tax avoider.

  4. If you ever want a good laugh, visit the Graun’s summary of the papers ; it gets desperate really quickly ; by about half way, there is something like “well known Brexiters have an offshore account”.

  5. The odd thing about the Hamilton thing is that most people don’t pay VAT on air travel: it’s zero rated as passenger transport.

    The complaint is essentially that Hamilton has put himself in the same VAT position as the man in the street, suggesting that for some reason the correct position is that he should be paying VAT on something that they don’t have to.

  6. ‘Because if there is one big lesson from the Paradise Papers, it’s that currently legal tax avoidance by certain companies and individuals has been shown to be as antisocial, immoral and unfair’

    They aren’t shown to be by the Paradise Papers. The Papers is merely a list of names. Wishful thinking by the Guardian.

  7. Taxation in general is immoral and unfair, and the fomenting of envy that is the Left’s stock in trade is antisocial. Tax avoidance (and even frank tax evasion in most cases) is the upright stance.

  8. Because if there is one big lesson from the Paradise Papers, it’s that currently legal tax avoidance by certain companies and individuals has been shown to be as antisocial, immoral and unfair as many of the arrangements that are banned.

    You’d have to have a heart of stone to read that sentence and not laugh out loud.

  9. I had a conversation with a typical lefty guardianista woman who ranted on a bit about the paradise papers brushing aside my comment about how virtually nothing illegal had been found.

    Minutes later we were discussing her air b’n’b arrangements which gave her well under the £7.5k rent-a-room figure…..until I pointed out that the rent she was charging her adult children also counted toward the limit so she ought to be declaring the surplus over £7.5k. That was, apparently, ridiculous and there was no way she was paying tax on that.

    It was different.

    For reasons.

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