Help me out on the logic here would you?

And to argue that the tax code is too complicated and we pay too much tax is completely wrong for precisely the reason UK Uncut gave – tax avoidance is morally unacceptable. Tax avoidance is abuse.

I can see two different statements there.

to argue that the tax code is too complicated and we pay too much tax is completely wrong

I can see how you might reach that conclusion, even if I disagree with it.

tax avoidance is morally unacceptable. Tax avoidance is abuse.

I can also see how you might reach that conclusion, even as I disagree with it (I prefer to call tax avoidance \”obeynig the law\”).

What I can\’t quite see is how those two statements are connected by this:

for precisely the reason UK Uncut gave

Whether taxes are too high or too complicated has nothing at all to do with whether tax avoidance is abuse or morally unacceptable.

Anyone able to help me out here?

15 thoughts on “Help me out on the logic here would you?”

  1. It’s literally impossible to logically match those two statements and you know it.

    Notwithstanding the whole tax avoidance/evasion/abuse mess that he regularly gets himself tangled up in, he is also getting increasingly into a new mess over simplification.

    When it suits him, such as in his M&S posts, he concludes that the tax system must be wrong if it’s too complicated to be understood. I have some sympathy for that view. But in other posts (such as todays), there is no problem with complication, and those who say there is should be strung up ‘cos they are tax abusers using complication as a fig leaf.

    As ever, I could entertain either arguement, but not both from the same person. On the same blog. In the same month.

  2. You cannot help but love the wording:

    “to argue that the tax code is too complicated and we pay too much tax is completely wrong”

    So it’s not merely that those making the argument are incorrect but that simply arguing the point is “completely wrong”, (and those doing so should therefore be condemned as evil).

    What I can’t understand, even with Richie level peculiarity, is why he is against tax simplification. This would reduce loopholes and therefore avoidance so shouldn’t he be all in favour?

  3. I suspect that he does like simplification when he’s thinking about eliminating intended and unindended loopholes (i.e. increasing the effective tax rate), but doesn’t like simplification when he’s thinking about flat tax (i.e. less progressive tax structures or closing loopholes for one of his preferred constituencies).
    Of course its perfectly possible (desireable?) to disentangle those thoughts, but I’m not holding my breath…

  4. Regardless of the moral dimension, may I draw your attention to the words of an, unnamed, judge in a Revenue case…?

    “Tax evasion is a criminal offence and should be treated as such. Tax avoidance, however, is merely a sport for Gentlemen”.

    A distiction that appears to be completely beyond the ken of Mr Murphy.

  5. I can’t help wondering how many of those complaining about tax avoidance choose to pay fuel duty even though they use a bicycle for economy- after all the greater part of the cost of fuel is tax. Similarly how many pay the top rate of vehicle excise duty despite not being liable for it. And shouldn’t they be volunteering duty on their orange juice- after all they’d have to pay it on beer and they don’t want to avoid the tax do they.

  6. I wonder if Ritchie ever asks himself if he made the correct career choice. I do think he would be better off as an HMRC inspector.

  7. Tax avoidance is merely the act of minimising ones tax bill. That most peoples’ are minimised anyway without their needing to take any action does not make them morally superior to those that do.

  8. Would it not be true to say that if you apply the RM logic to personal incomes in the same way as he does to corporate profits (profits = £X, rate of tax = y%, if tax received by HMRC < £x * y% then the difference = 'the tax gap', which is down to evil tax avoidance) you arrive at the conclusion everyone if avoiding tax?

    After all if your income was £20K say, and the basic rate is 20%, you should pay £4K in tax right? But if you're a bit sneaky and take advantage of the 'tax free income allowance' you only pay about £2.8K instead, leaving a £1.2K 'tax gap'.

    OMG, we're all evil tax avoiders!!!

  9. Strangely, I think I can argue alongside Murphy here. At least I can discern a thread of logic.

    Richard is saying that tax avoidance is morally unacceptable because we don’t pay too much tax. It’s immoral to try and avoid tax when the tax bill is so small (in R.M.’s opinion). Therefore if the tax bill was to become too high, it follows that tax avoidance would then become acceptable.

    So, whether to avoid tax is a personal issue based on whether you think your tax bill is too high. It must be true, Richard Murphy says so.

  10. It is a little odd how the word ‘abuse’ is used to stifle any discussion.
    The implication is that to question ‘abuse’ is to be complicit in/with it.
    It must be difficult speaking in the UK these days.

  11. And to argue that the tax code is too complicated and we pay too much tax

    The connection between those two statements needs justification. Not that we are going to get it from Ritchie.

    Taking it to extremes, you can have a flat rate tax system with a rate of 5% or 95%. I believe the tax system is too complicated. I’m not sure that many people are arguing for a more complex tax system (they’ll argue for more tax on a despised or less for an adored special interest group – normally themselves) although we are burdened less than, for example, our ex-colonial bretheren.

  12. I’m not sure that many people are arguing for a more complex tax system (they’ll argue for more tax on a despised or less for an adored special interest group – normally themselves)

    Although functionally, this is the same as arguing for a more complex tax system…

  13. Timothy! How many times have we told you not to try and apply logic to the thinking of leftes!

    Go and stand on the Naughty Step immediately. And don’t come back until you are very, very sorry.

  14. On a more serious note, one of the principle arguments against flat taxes is that they are “too simplistic” and “unsophisticated”. The implication being only unsophisticated places might use them – hence their success in places like Estonia. But this makes no sense at all.

    Speaking as an engineer, in my world, we figure that any titbrain can work out how to get something done. Eventually. The problem is he will most likely devise a solution that is unnecessarily complex, large, wasteful, counterproductive and time consuming.

    The real skill lies in designing a solution that can only be described using words like “efficient”, “elegant”, “pure”, “small” and even “simple”.

    To think that something is good because it is “large”, “complex”, “confusing”, “inefficient” is just mad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *