Toby Young in The Spectator:
But even if you bracket that question, Murphy’s definition of “tax compliance” doesn’t get us very far. For instance, it lets Vodafone off the hook since “the economic substance” of the company’s “transactions” were carried out in Germany, not the UK. Non-doms, too, wriggle free since the tax they avoid paying is that due on their non-UK earnings. The only miscreant Murphy catches in his “compliance” net is Sir Philip Green – not a particularly impressive haul.
For anyone wishing to continue this debate with Murphy, I should warn you that his self-righteousness knows no bounds. In one of his blogs, he accuses me of “failing to understand morality” and says the fact that I’m hoping to set up a free school with taxpayers’ money “adds insult to injury”. “He’s not a person with whom I really wish to be acquainted,” he harrumphs.
Needless to say, he’s not averse to a bit of careful tax planning himself. The indefatigable conservative blogger Tim Worstall has dug around in Companies House and discovered that Murphy has taken advantage of a tax avoidance strategy that he himself condemns as an “abuse” in one of his blogs. Nothing illegal about it – and not immoral, either, since we all have a right to pay no more tax than the law demands of us. But it’s quite astonishing that Murphy accuses me of “failing to understand morality” for merely defending a practice that he himself indulges in.