Ritchie responds to Guido

As follows:

PS I’m aware the right wing blogosphere is sacred witless as a result because they’re seeking to brand me, Polly and the Guardian as hypocrites on tax today. But how would they know? Without any understanding of the issues, how they have developed, how language has changed over time or context – all of which they’d ignore even if they could understand it – they fall back on the only thing they know – ad hominem attacks and abuse. In which case they deserve to be scared witless – because that’s not going to stick with anyone. And I’m certainly not wasting time debating it, again.

Interesting. For today he says that one of the things which counts as tax avoidance is:

People shifting income within families to people who haven’t really earned it, to pay lower tax as a result;

Something which we can see has been happening in the family of one Richard Murphy:

Fulcrum Publishing Ltd:

“Publishes original written materials”, seems to have been his old vehicle for paid writing.

Jointly owned 50:50 by Ritchie and Jacqueline Murphy (same address, born 1963, presumably his wife).

Hasn’t traded since 2003, but when it was trading it paid out all of its profits as dividends. Incorporation and taking dividends from the company instead of a salary is a classic tax/NI avoidance strategy – as he set out in his Observer article.

I wonder how much of the company’s work his wife did, or whether giving her shares was just a device to save tax by transferring half of the income to her? Did “the rewards paid [to her] match the underlying economic substance” (Ritchie’s own test of whether incorporation is “abusive”)? It seems unlikely that she was generating 50% of the profits from his writing.

It’s difficult to see what legitimate non-tax reason he would have for incorporation, and (as he said in his reply to you) he regularly argues against incorporation – for other people.

Would you use such evidence to describe the nation\’s leading retired accountant from Wandsworth as a \”hypocrite on tax\”?

Umm, yes, I think I would, I really do think I would.

12 thoughts on “Ritchie responds to Guido”

  1. Polly Toynbee was at the tax justice protests in Oxford street on Saturday. Good for her!

    As she said in the Guardian today:

    These brilliant protests on tax-dodging can unite us all

    Everyone has an interest when billionaires keep money that should pay for the universities and Sure Starts now being savaged.

    If the companies that have such tax arrangements are not doing wrong, as Murphy himself makes clear, why does he endorse the protests against those companies?

  2. “These brilliant protests on tax-dodging can unite us all”

    Will she pop over to Norfolk and be superglued to Ritchie’s office window then?

  3. Murphy’s own response, it appears, is to claim that anyone who criticises him is a moron, or evil. He can hardly be surprised if people who are not persuaded of his hard-left views are not willing to give him any slack these days.

    He is an embarrassment to journalism and the accountancy profession. How in hell did he ever qualify as an accountant in the first place? Did he get his ticket from a Christmas cracker?

  4. Johnathan,

    It’s far from uncommon for those who we would descibe as ‘left’ are often reduced to the arguement that the reason people don’t agree with them is simply because they are too thick to understand the ‘real’ issue etc.

    Richie does rather impress me, it is quite tireless in his output of blatent nonsense. Without the survices of Tim etc, there is a real risk he can win the arguement on shear volume alone.

    Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord said it best; ‘whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace’

  5. It’s only an ad hominem if the argument used is not related to the point you will to rebut.

    So this isn’t an ad hominem, it’s a tu quoque.

  6. Peter Watt, ex-SG of the Labour party gives voice to my own thoughts on the man and much of the left in general. Excerpts:

    “There is an arrogance at the heart of our politics that is going to make it difficult to really understand why we lost. It is an arrogance that says that we alone own morality and that we alone want the best for people. It says that our instincts and our motives alone are pure. It’s an arrogance that belittles others’ fears and concerns as “isms” whilst raising ours as righteous. We then mistakenly define ourselves as being distinctive from our opponents because we are morally superior rather than because we have different diagnoses and solutions. It is lazy, wrong and politically dangerous.

    If you think that I am being harsh, just think about what we say about our opponents. We assume that they are all in it for themselves, that they are indifferent to the suffering of others. In fact, that they are quite happy to induce more suffering if it suits their malign ends. What we don’t think is that they may want the same things as us, but just have a different approach. Instead, we cast high-minded aspersions on their morality and humanity.

    But does it matter? Well, yes, I think that it does. Because our arrogance has the effect of stopping us listening. In fact, it is worse than that: we think that we are listening when many voters know that we are not.”

    I heartily recommend the whole piece. It’s not long, and he surely has our favourite tax punk in mind.


  7. @Dennis, it’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it?

    I arrange my affairs properly and should be commended
    YOU indulge in tax avoidance and should be ashamed of yourself
    HE is a tax evader and must be punished

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