Murphness of the day

Ritchie points us to this article:

Britain\’s largest companies are in dispute with HM Revenue & Customs over paying £25bn worth of tax, according to the latest official figures.

The money, if collected, would go a long way to helping the government\’s parlous financial state and is, for example, roughly equivalent to the size of a year\’s cuts to public spending.

The Murph tells us that this means:

The first is that it supports the claim that I have long made that tax avoidance by large UK multinational companies amounts to at least £12 billion a year.

Oh, does it?

But ultimately, and this is my obvious second reaction to this news, the issue is that this loss,

Loss, eh?

Our Retired Accountant From Wandsworth seems to have missed this point in the original piece:

HMRC said that the latest figures are \”a snapshot as at 31 March\” and added that around half of the sums are eventually paid. It said the figure of £25.5bn \”is not tax owed or unpaid – it is a tool which helps LBS managers to better direct resources in order to produce the best results.\”

It\’s not tax owed, it\’s not a loss of tax revenue, it\’s not tax unpaid. It\’s tax that we don\’t know yet is owed, unpaid or not due. You know, this rule of law thing? Even, as someone once said, this tax compliance thing?

Tax compliance is different from tax avoidance and tax evasion because it is defined (admittedly by me) as seeking to pay the right amount of tax (but no more) in the right place at the right time where right means that the economic substance of the transactions undertaken coincides with the place and form in which they are reported for taxation purposes. The significant difference between tax avoidance and tax compliance is the intent of the taxpayer. A tax avoider seeks to pay less than the tax due as required by the spirit of the law. A tax compliant tax payer seeks to pay the tax due (but no more).

Tax compliance is not opening one\’s wallet to HMRC and saying \”Help yourself\”. It is, as the man says \”seeking to pay the right amount of tax (but no more) in the right place at the right time .\”

And sometimes the law is unclear on exactly what this is which is what we have tax lawyers for. Plus tax disputes, tax courts, appeal mechanisms and, well, we\’re back to that rule of law thing again aren\’t we?

 

 

87 thoughts on “Murphness of the day”

  1. HMRC themselves say the following:

    “It is not tax owed or unpaid”

    ‘The initial estimate doesn’t take into account any reliefs or allowances that might be due, or the full facts or any legal issues. HMRC encourage their people to be expansive in their initial estimate rather than limiting themselves.”

    “In many cases, when HMRC have looked at the full facts it has become clear that there is no further liability at all.”

    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/freedom/tax-lbs-enq.htm

    Tax Research is not doing any research, just pasting Guardian articles.

  2. It is also what we have tax inspectors for! Believe it or not they don’t tend to pluck a number from thin air but try to work out what is due. If an avoidance scheme looks to be bending the intention of the legislation too far they’ll fight. Murphy seems to have a conception of supine pen-pushers at HMRC being bamboozled by clever spivs. Attractive to #ukuncut as it fits in with the general picture of saintly public servants being thwarted by grim liberal economics but not reality based.

    Nor do they particularly recognise Mr Murphy’s distinction between tax compliance and avoidance (tax compliance being for HMRC the much thinner concept of getting taxpayers to apply laws they intend to comply with eg PAYE correctly).

  3. They seem to have taken this resistance to paying tax a bit far in Greece don’t they?According to TW this should be the most prosperous economy in Europe:all that cheap European credit and nothing to pay in tax.

  4. Ah, but who defines what is the “right amount of tax”?

    Those of us who think the Rule of Law is fairly important would say it’s the courts.

    Murphy seems to think it’s HMRC (or himself, when he thinks the taxman isn’t demanding enough).

    A nice quote from Murphy; he thinks we should obey “the rules of taxation as laid down by Parliament and as applied without contest or dispute by its taxation authorities.”

  5. Ritchie in reality is no different from the assorted socialists and other useful idiots in Greece.

    With the recession growth has all but ceased. Tax payers have had nearly 3-years with zero or minimal pay increments and are feeling the squeeze.

    Ritchie and his ilk want the party to continue as it did under Gormless Gordon, with the state continuing to expand in its attempt to consume the entire resources of the UK.

    Since taxes cannot be raised by squeezing more out of those taxpayers and corporates that are already “Paying the Right Amount of Tax” then the left have to look around for other victims to pay the bills that they aren’t prepared to pay themselves.

    So they hit upon the usual suspects, those ghastly tax dodging corporates (you know, the ones which employ lots of people and generate the money to pay taxes).

    The view of the useful idiots is that any taxpayer or company that does not pay the full tax rate of their income is guilty of tax avoidance or evasion (mostly it is unclear which as they are interchangeable in the eyes of the useful idiots).

    Ritchie and his tax consuming cohorts take absolute delight in ignoring such dastardly mechanisms as ‘capital allowances’ or the fact that income is tax paid from another jurisdiction or even wholy within other jurisdictions as was the case Vodafone.

    They won’t be happy until they have achieved their ultimate aim of turning the UK into a Soviet peoples republic.

    Fuck that for a bunch of soldiers, that’s why I’m done gone.

  6. Botzarelli says
    “Attractive to #ukuncut as it fits in with the general picture of saintly public servants being thwarted by grim liberal economics but not reality based. ”

    Your proof being what? It’s well known that HMRC are woefully under resourced. It wouldn’t take much of a spiv to string them along.

    Galt
    What a pathetically bitter creation you are.
    “So they hit upon the usual suspects, those ghastly tax dodging corporates (you know, the ones which employ lots of people and generate the money to pay taxes).”
    So by identifying that tax paid by the corps is at mainly an employee burden, and by asking the corp to pay corporation tax, you think that Murphy is suggesting a Soviet state?

    By supporting tax abuse you support the criminality that rides with it. Well done for taking such a patriotic stance!

    We should be like Greece, like DBC Reed states!

    Sad sacks of individuals that you are.

  7. Surreptitious Evil

    We should be like Greece, like DBC Reed states!

    You mean having to beg the EU, ECB and IMF for assistance whilst having rioting in the streets.

    You have a strange view of paradise.

  8. SE,
    We don’t have to agree on a definition of paradise. We simply have to live in the country we most admire/envy/respect. For Arnald, that’s Greece.
    I look forward to the postcard, but I’m not holding my breath.

  9. D’y know, I’m inclined to go along with DBC & Arnald on this one.
    In Greece we can see a Laffer Curve cavorting in the wild. Greek government reckons Greeks should pay one amount of tax. Greeks apparently reckon they should be paying a lower one so adjust their payments accordingly. Move their enterprises out of sight of thetax collectors. Greek government bases its spending on what taxes it thinks it should be getting in rather than what it is & bankrupts country.
    Yep, we should be more like Greeks & down here in Iberia we are. Black ie real economy’s doing fine thanks. Who gives a toss what Madrid wants?

  10. So countries borrow money to fund a lifestyle they can’t afford and when the bills come in, it’s the banks fault..

    Lefty logic at it’s finest…

    Mrs T hit the nail on the head when she said “Socialists always run out of other peoples money”

  11. S Evil

    It’s called sarcasm. As was DBC’s. Worstall’s blog advocates screwing the taxman. The greeks screwed the taxman. Hence riots.

    and this a classic Richard Littlecockism
    “If HMRC are so under resourced how is that they have time for harassing farmers mowing football fields ?”

    You couldn’t make it up. While tens of billions are stolen through schemes that allow other jurisdictions to bleed the UK dry, a poxy “cat up a tree” story makes you all froth at the mouth.

    and here’s Johnnybud saying

    “So countries borrow money to fund a lifestyle they can’t afford and when the bills come in, it’s the banks fault..”

    Yes, because a country is just like a person. Sarcasm, if you’re SE and too nobbed to understand.

    Maybe if the rich and the corps, and everyone else, in Greece hadn’t thought tax as optional, as espoused here, then would they be in the same position?

    Your answers to that will be skewed by bitter personal regret and a need for a bigger cock.

  12. Arnald (I know I’m wasting typing here but I’ll give it a go) you do realise the ‘corporations’ don’t actually exist in the physical universe don’t you?

    That ‘companies’ and ‘corporations’ are just legal entities that represent REAL people, you know, the sort who can punch you on the nose?

    Those people are customers, employees and owners of said legal entities, and if you take tax from the legal entity, you take tax from the real people behind the facade. Either from customers (in the form of higher prices), employees (in the form of lower wages) and owners (in the form of lower profits/dividends), or most likely a bit of all three.

    So every time you raise corporate taxes somewhere real people pay more for their purchases, or get paid less or end up with less income. And contrary to popular opinion its not evil cigar chomping capitalists who will end up paying. Ordinary men and women in the street pay corporate taxes, to an extent that would shock you, were you able to see what the situation would be in their absence.

  13. @Arnald

    “Maybe if the rich and the corps, and everyone else, in Greece hadn’t thought tax as optional, as espoused here, then would they be in the same position?”

    possibly, but since we can see the Greek government have in fact been living beyond their means, it seems quite possible that if those corporations had paid whatever bill was put in front of them the government would just have spent even more to match, and still be bankrupt.

    If the corporations had suddenly found a way to pay much less tax, dropping tax revenue off a cliff relative to projections, then maybe you can blame them for bankrupting Greece.

  14. Arnald,
    I don’t think it is at all obvious that Tim advocates ‘screwing the taxman’. Bear with me here.

    Much of the Tim/Ritchie debate seems to boil down to rule of law i.e. “HMRC negotiates tax with big business every day, so someone disputed HMRC in court = bad ‘cos that’s just abuse” (Ritchie) and “someone disputed HMRC = good ‘cos that what the rule of law is for” (Tim).

    You may not agree with Tim’s position, but it’s a helluva stretch to equate it with screwing the taxman. Emphasising the importance of rule of law is a pretty legitimate (if not necessarily agreeable) position, and arguably the exact *opposite* position from Greece, where rule of law has been fatally undermined for decades.

    Or put another way, when you disagree with Tim’s ‘rule of law’ position and instead favour Ritchie’s ‘it’s negotiable’ position, Greece is a likely outcome.

  15. Jim
    Or tax from the profit. Profit which is derived mainly from the work of others. Why should they have to pay more. Pay the top percent less then and have the legal entity ‘not exist’.

    It’s good that individuals can hide behind a ‘non existence’, isn’t it?

    The rule of law is one thing, Gary, but adhering to the spirit to which it was conceived is quite another. Using the laws of other jurisduictions to undermine the laws of your own may be ‘legal’, but for christ sakes, it’s nothing to do with legitimacy. It’s abuse of the rule of law, plain and simple.

    These aren’t some draconian laws that inhibit wealth generation, but mandated democracy stating that revenue needs to meet expense. If that expense is needed to fund infrastructure then those within that jurisdiction should pull their weight accordingly, or do like Galt and be unpatriotic and anti social.

    If you want to do business in my country then this is the rule of law. A rule of law is needed to prohibit and criminalise tax abuse. Be it ‘normal planning’ using non trading subsidiaries, or old fashioned evasion.

    Again, by supporting the use of the shadow banking system you are directly supporting terrorism and criminality.

  16. Oh and Gary, do you really think that HMRC can compete with big business when it comes to legal battles?

    That’s why it’s abuse. It knows damn well what it’s doing. With bells on.

  17. Arnald,
    I’m pleasantly pleased to finally meet the man who fully understands the ‘spirit’ of the largest set of tax laws on the planet.

    I would be ever so grateful if you could just document them. It would save us ever so much work. And when I say ‘we’ I am speaking of someone who spends much of his working day with HMRC in it’s legal battles with big business (I am an expert witness in tax tribunals and High Court).

    Your post 18 clearly reveals you as someone who is not professionally involved in such matters.

  18. Then you will know the problems that Murphy is highlighting.

    Not enough resource to combat flagrant circumvention, using methods not intended at inception, to abuse the meaning of law.

    I’m surprised that as an expert you would want a continuation of the absurdities of secrecy jurisdictions. Maybe you don’t, but by opposing Murphy, that’s what is implied.

    As an expert you must be able to see the influence of a coterie of minority interests against that of the state.

  19. “Or tax from the profit. Profit which is derived mainly from the work of others. Why should they have to pay more. Pay the top percent less then and have the legal entity ‘not exist’.”

    No one is stopping you from starting your own business and paying your employees more than they would earn elsewhere

    “These aren’t some draconian laws that inhibit wealth generation, but mandated democracy stating that revenue needs to meet expense. If that expense is needed to fund infrastructure then those within that jurisdiction should pull their weight accordingly, or do like Galt and be unpatriotic and anti social.

    If you want to do business in my country then this is the rule of law. ”

    That’s complete bullocks. The rule of law is that people should pay the taxes that are written in that law, not that which is needed to meet expenses.

  20. “I’m surprised that as an expert you would want a continuation of the absurdities of secrecy jurisdictions. ”

    What about the UK caring about the law in the UK and the people / governments of other countries (including “secrecy jurisdictions”) caring about theirs?

  21. Arnald,
    I’m not sure where you get the idea I support “secrecy jurisdictions”. I certainly haven’t said that.

    Rather, I addressed two different points you raised; firstly that Tim’s aim/point/arguement was to ‘screw the taxman’ (when I read him to be arguing for stronger rule of law), and second that HMRC is incapable of matching the skills/resources of ‘big business’ (which I know not to be true). No more, no less.

    I support rule of law within our juristiction, and reject legal colonialism. That would be consistent with an internationist liberal democracy.

  22. Arnald,
    I should have added that I do recognise HMRC’s complaints about lack of resources, but, coming as I do from the biggest professional services firm in the world, *every* organisation complains about lack of resources. Even the biggest firms in the world (I promise you). I safely predict that if HMRC were to double in size I would hear the same complaints that Ritchie refers to. Its just something about human nature. The real mistake is the uncritical acceptance of those self interested, self-serving complaints. My own up-close, first-hand professional experience is different. Yours?

  23. The rule of law is one thing, Gary, but adhering to the spirit to which it was conceived is quite another.

    Well, yes, one of the points of the rule of law is that you’re held to what was actually written, and are not expected to read the hearts and minds of the people who wrote the law. If the guys who wrote the law didn’t get their intentions down correctly, then they have freedom to correct it (assuming they are still in power), but if they don’t correct it, then we go with what they wrote.

    The alternative is that the people in power get to make the law up as they go along, which gives all sorts of opportunities to make up the law in a way that favours your friends and harms your political opponents.

    These aren’t some draconian laws that inhibit wealth generation, but mandated democracy stating that revenue needs to meet expense.

    Actually no, as a matter of reality. Tax laws are a complex matter, but they are set separate to expenses, which is how come governments can sometimes run deficits and sometimes surpluses.

    If that expense is needed to fund infrastructure then those within that jurisdiction should pull their weight accordingly,

    This opens up a massive can of worms about which infrastructure is necessary, and whether the government is purchasing it in the most cost-effective way. And what does the word “necessary” mean anyway?
    So instead, what countries go with is that you’re obliged to follow the law. Yes, the government of the day might be wrong that occupying Afghanistan, or building a motorway, is necessary, and it might be wrong to give a tax deduction to married couples, but you should obey the law as written, because otherwise we’d never get *anything* done.

    Saying that people should follow the spirit of the law, or that people should only pay taxes for necessary infrastructure, is one of those things that sounds very easy to say, but is just massively problematic in practice.

  24. Tracy W,

    But Arnald is telling us its not so hard in practice. He seems to be in touch with the spirits, so all he has to do now is share his findings at we can all be home in time for tea.

    Arnold – how are you coming along with the messages from the spirits?

  25. Arnald said:
    “If that expense is needed to fund infrastructure then those within that jurisdiction should pull their weight accordingly”

    Tracey W replied:
    “This opens up a massive can of worms about which infrastructure is necessary, and whether the government is purchasing it in the most cost-effective way. And what does the word “necessary” mean anyway?”

    An even bigger question is how much of government spending is on necessary infrastructure?

    30% of is on straight transfer payments (social security & tax credits).

    15% is on the NHS; OK some of that is of services for the people who are paying for it, but a large part of it is actually a disguised transfer payment to those who haven’t.

    7.5% is transfers to Scotland, Wales & Ulster (that’s on top of the fact that they don’t pay their share of the general government expenditure).

    1% to the EU.

    Nearly 10% goes to local goverment (not including education). OK some of that is infrastructure (e.g. road mending), but most goes on social services, largely yet more disguised transfer payments.

    So most government spending is not on infrastructure (whether necessary, useful or wasteful), but on simple transfer payments (taking money from X to give to Y).

    And that’s before we get onto contentious issues such as how much useful education we get from the education spending, or whether government IT procurement actually provides any useful benefits for the country.

    Whether or not these transfer payments are a good thing (economically or morally), it’s what most government spending goes on.

    So arguments in favour of taxes based on paying for necessary infrastructure is about as useful as saying that we need to pay taxes to stop Napoleon invading.

  26. Quite agree with Gary, I would love to hear Arnald explain the spirit of UK Tax law. Would save ever so much trouble.

    Although, if it ends up anything like this:

    “These aren’t some draconian laws that inhibit wealth generation, but mandated democracy stating that revenue needs to meet expense. If that expense is needed to fund infrastructure then those within that jurisdiction should pull their weight accordingly, or do like Galt and be unpatriotic and anti social.”

    …then we’ll need a list of the infrastructure and services that must obviously be paid for from tax revenue, ideally with a reasonable cost-estimate of these. Just so we know what tax amount must be recovered to pay for it all, compared to what we’re paying now.

  27. ‘Or tax from the profit. Profit which is derived mainly from the work of others. Why should they have to pay more. Pay the top percent less then and have the legal entity ‘not exist’.’

    Yes, you could put draconian taxes on corporate profits.

    What effect do you think this would have on the likelihood of a) new companies being formed in the UK vs overseas, and b) the likelihood of existing companies closing UK based operations and moving the production/office staff overseas?

    And what effect do you think this will have on the overall level of employment (and thus income of working people) in the UK economy?

    As to ‘have the legal entity ‘not exist’’, are you seriously suggesting the abolition of limited liability companies? Have you any concept of what that would do to the economy of the UK?

  28. Jim, Arnald does not believe in the laffer curve so he would probably tell you that all would be fine and dandy and that those remaining are better off without the unpatriotic leavers

  29. So Much For Subtlety

    Arnald – “Oh and Gary, do you really think that HMRC can compete with big business when it comes to legal battles?”

    Let’s see – the funds the Government have at their disposal grossly out weigh the funds that any one (or any combination of, or even all of them put together) company. The Government has armed policemen and soldiers. Very few British companies do. The Government has the right to shoot dead anyone it wants. No British companies do. The Government appoints the judges and rewards them in later life. No UK company can do that. The Government trains all the lawyers. They also pass the laws so the laws say what they like.

    So basically, yes, the Government grossly out weighs any company in any sort of dispute. Which is no doubt why the Government always wins and we have become ever less free.

  30. Arnald.

    Interesting that you think the farmer getting done for using red diesel to mow a football field was a ‘cat up a tree story ‘. If we lived in your spirit of the law world we would be snowed under with stories like that as the HMRC went on a witch hunt for anyone they deemed to be abusing that spirit. Of course they wouldn’t bother with anyone who looked like they had the clout to fight back just with the little people. You claim moral outrage at your imagined massive tax evasion, presumably on behalf of the poor but I doubt you really care.

  31. None of the so-called libertarians, Ayn Rand weirdos and tax avoiders on here have yet explained why an economy like Greece where little tax is collected is not a shining example to us all by being demonstrably more prosperous.
    Me I ‘d whack on the most confiscatory form of Land Value Tax going.

  32. “None of the so-called libertarians, Ayn Rand weirdos and tax avoiders on here have yet explained why an economy like Greece where little tax is collected is not a shining example to us all by being demonstrably more prosperous.”

    It might have something to do with the size of its public sector…

  33. “Ritchie in reality is no different from the assorted socialists and other useful idiots in Greece.”

    I resent the implication of that remark. There is nothing remotely useful about Mr Murphy.

  34. One of the reasons why I (not British), my wife (not British) and child (also not British) left the UK is because of people like Arnald who feel they have the right to pick my pockets to pay for the largess of their own consciencious or moral ambitions.

    Sorry, but it’s not about unpatriotic behaviour, it’s about preserving sufficient value from my own efforts to support my family.

    That’s one of those ‘RESPONSIBILITY’ rather than ‘rights’ issues that is often forgotten about in the age when the state is your mother and the state is your father.

    If Arnald doesn’t like the fact that he expects other people to pay for his largess and their response is ‘bugger off’, then all I can say is ‘Welcome to the real world’.

    The socialists and other useful idiots like Arnald would have us work our entire lives to pay for stuff that we don’t need and we don’t agree with.

    Time that Arnald revisited ‘The Social Contract’ as laid out by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It clearly states that those who object are free to leave.

    We do and we have, therefore our obligations under ‘The Social Contract’ are fulfilled.

  35. “Oh and Gary, do you really think that HMRC can compete with big business when it comes to legal battles?”

    Given that HMRC are not obliged to reveal the details of tax schemes to tax payers, but tax payers are required to disclose their tax schemes to HMRC, I would say it was an unlevel playing field.

  36. “None of the so-called libertarians, Ayn Rand weirdos and tax avoiders on here have yet explained why an economy like Greece where little tax is collected is not a shining example to us all by being demonstrably more prosperous.”

    I think it is universally agreed that what happens in Greece is tax evasion, not tax avoidance. Its not that the Greeks are running complicated schemes to minimise their tax liabilities, its just that they don’t declare their true incomes.

    The Greek tax authorities are obviously so inefficient that they cannot detect and prosecute mass under-declaration of income. One suspects that where it is detected an ‘inducement’ is paid and the case ‘goes away’.

    When a State bureaucracy is so inefficient (or corrupt) that it cannot collect its taxes, that State is on the abyss of extinction.

  37. Not that I can really believe the tax figures for Greece given onTracy’s list ( the revenue figures for this country have been repeatedlty queried) but according to this, Denmark 50%,Sweden 47%, Germany ,France , Austria, Norway should all be languishing under the dead hand of public sector bureaucracy while Mexico 10% etc should be showing a perky efflorescence of entrepreneurual get up and go unhindered by grasping Soviet-style tax men.

    Perhaps all this talk about money “fructifying in the pockets of the citizen ” or some such Worstallian rhetoric is in error. If you give British people free money,they spend it on property.Look what has happened with the monthly bonuses given to mortgage holders through low interest rates: no rush to the shops,which are closing in droves. The Guvmnt might just as well tax to the hilt and spend it on bureaucrats,nurses and teachers who at least pay their tax (they have to).The creation of a generation of white van men who don’t pay tax
    with Greek joie de vie has been one of the worst things that has happened to the UK economy in my expereience. Nothing in their case that a good dose of LVT would n’t put right, of course.

  38. The biggest question in respect of tax is not how much is collected or avoided but what the collected tax is spent on. Waste, mismanagement, electoral bribes, bad contracts, shocking systems: there are the major issues, and probably always will be.

  39. Interesting to note that folk want to differentiate Greek tax abuse as evasion rather than avoidance. Using shipping as an example, how is basing your shipping company in Jersey, say, not the same as HSBC using subsidiaries there to drain revenue from the UK?

    It’s just using the same methods. But the Greeks are all dirty tax evaders, whilst the British rich and corps are canny tax planners.

    Seeing as there is no CbC reporting, I doubt many offshore schemes, especially those that are pinged around the secrecy jurisdictions, ever get filed anyway.

    Not declaring their true incomes!

  40. Arnald,

    in Greece hadn’t thought tax as optional, as espoused here, then would they be in the same position?

    You really ought to try looking beyond that strawman you’ve built.

    Having read this blog for about 5 years I have read many an argument for lower taxes and different taxes, but never once have I read Tim, or any of his commenters argue for taxes being voluntary. Indeed they argue exactly the opposite, that taxes, once decided, should be compulsory for all and applied using the rule of law.

    As to this spirit of the law approach you keep going on about, next time you have a reflective moment just contemplate a world where the spirit of the law is applied by your worst enemies.

  41. FFS, Greece has been running large deficits since ’74, Denmark and Sweden like to run a surplus from time to time, Germany and Austria run a relatively small deficit and Norway seems to prefer a large surplus.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/may/27/debt-deficit-oecd-countries-data

    According to an editorial published by the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, large public deficits are one of the features that have marked the Greek social model since the restoration of democracy in 1974. After the removal of the right leaning military junta, the government wanted to bring disenfranchised left leaning portions of the population into the economic mainstream.[24] In order to do so, successive Greek governments have, among other things, run large deficits to finance public sector jobs, pensions, and other social benefits.[25] Since 1993 debt to GDP has remained above 100%. …

    … To keep within the monetary union guidelines, the government of Greece has been found to have consistently and deliberately misreported the country’s official economic statistics.[27][28] In the beginning of 2010, it was discovered that Greece had paid Goldman Sachs and other banks hundreds of millions of dollars in fees since 2001 for arranging transactions that hid the actual level of borrowing.[29] The purpose of these deals made by several subsequent Greek governments was to enable them to spend beyond their means, while hiding the actual deficit from the EU overseers.[30] The emphasis on the Greek case has tended to overshadow similar serious irregularities, usage of derivatives and “massaging” of statistics (to cope with monetary union guidelines) that have also been observed in cases of other EU countries; however Greece was seen as probably the worst case.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_sovereign_debt_crisis#Greek_government_funding_crisis

    Greek budget deficit widened to 10.275 billion euros in the January-May period, significantly up compared with a budget target for a deficit of 9.072 bn euros, the Finance ministry said on Tuesday. The budget deficit was 9.1 bn euros in the January-May period last year.

    http://www.athensnews.gr/portal/11/43139

    Also,

    http://www.athensnews.gr/portal/11/40838

  42. Arnald,
    Yeah, Greece, yada yada. Nice try.

    Back to the point: how did the seance go? Any word back yet from the spirits?

    I give you my word that defining the spirit of each of our laws has defeated some of the best mind in the country (I’m talking about Judges, lawyers and QCs, not me) for generations. If they have all missed something, please do share. It would represent a defining contribution to an important topic.

  43. DBC Reed: I notice and fully appreciate the thought that went into the thanks you offered me, in responding to your request. It is so nice to debate matters with someone who is willing to add those little touches of politeness.

    but according to this, Denmark 50%,Sweden 47%, Germany ,France , Austria, Norway should all be languishing under the dead hand of public sector bureaucracy while Mexico 10% etc

    You need to control for a rather large number of other factors before you can draw this conclusion, Mr Reed.

    There’s also a couple of problematic factors going on here:
    1. A poor country can’t raise that much tax, as a percentage, as a rich one, because a lot more of the population’s spending is going on necessities like food.
    2. A poor country can see quite fast growth, as people copy lots of ideas that have already been worked out in richer countries (obviously, a poor country with a dysfunctional government can shrink even further). Rich countries have slower possible growth rates, because they’ve already installed most of the money-earning ideas.

    If you give British people free money,they spend it on property.

    The only way to spend money on property is if someone else sells you property. So if you buy a house for £400,000, you’re up one house and down £400,000 cash (or £400,000 deeper in debt, or some combination), and the seller of the property is down one house and up £400,000 cash (or £400,000 less in debt, or some combination). As a whole, society cannot spend money on property.

    And, as the UK has its own currency, if a British person wants to buy property somewhere overseas, either they have to exchange their pounds first to get the local currency, or the land seller has a bunch of pounds to use in Britain.

    The creation of a generation of white van men who don’t pay tax with Greek joie de vie has been one of the worst things that has happened to the UK economy in my expereience.

    If I remember my high school history lessons correctly, the gentry in Elizabethan England were not paying tax with Greek joie de vie as well.

  44. Gary
    It’s not the point is it? The point is that tax dodging is not proper for all manner of reasons.

    You can earn megabucks arguing the tax toss with anyone you like, in a size of organisation of your own choosing, but the fundamental fact remains. There is a tax gap. That means people are fiddling.

    Legal fiddling is still fiddling. Are you telling me the rule of law builds in a right to fiddle? Or are the fiddlers finding ways around the rule of law by using other laws in other jurisdictions, accessed by brass plaques in a lawyers office somewhere? etc.

    Your pedantry is amusing.

  45. Interesting to note that folk want to differentiate Greek tax abuse as evasion rather than avoidance.

    Yes, I am glad that you are finally taking some interest in this question.
    Let’s go over again, why we care about the letter of the law, and not the spirit. According to your earlier comment, the Greeks are obliged to follow the spirit of the law, not the letter, and they are obliged to pay taxes needed to fund essential infrastructure.

    Now, how do you know that the Greeks who are not paying the taxes they owe under the letter of the law are not indeed following the spirit of the law? They might well have different opinions to you, or the Greek government, on what is essential infrastructure, and what is involved in “pulling their weight”. If people should follow the spirit of the law, we have no way of deciding on this, except by brute force. If people are obliged to follow the letter of the law, then we can decide whether someone is breaking the law, or legitimately adapting their behaviour to the law in some way other than brute force.

  46. Hey Arnald, I’m still waiting for some answers for my questions from post number 29. You seem to have studiously avoided them…….

  47. @DBC Reed: You’re missing the point. The Greek economy isn’t in the toilet because too much of the GDP remains in the hands of the taxpayers, and they are putting it in mattresses and not spending it, its in the toilet because the State has spent more than its income for decades. It has massive debts that it can’t service, let alone pay back, and is running out of cash to pay the bills.

    Greece is not a failed experiment in low taxation, its a failed experiment in living beyond ones means. It would matter little if the Greek State taxed everyone very highly and efficiently, or lowly and inefficiently, if it spends more than its income for decades, eventually you end up in queer street.

    The black economy in Greece will probably be the only bit that is functioning anywhere near OK right now.

  48. Jim
    Who said about “draconian corp tax”? I didn’t.

    Nor did I mention abolishing LLs. Just the ability to set up artificially trading companies in order to move money around without it being treated properly for tax purposes.

    What about the Baltics then? Ireland? I remember the Baltics being lauded by the likes of Dan Mitchell (and Osborne on Ireland!). Oh dear oh dear.

    But hey ho, we’re talking about tax dodging, not low tax. However, the Greeks have chosen not to pay their taxes, the same as the rich and the corps do here. If you suggest a country has to be held to ransom and live on the means minus the rich and the corps tax take, nothing would go very far, would it?

    So many pedants. Life must be insufferable.

  49. But people are legally able to circumvent the rule of that law.

    Arnald, yes, congratulations, you have put your finger on the problem with following the spirit of the law, and not the letter. If people were legally obliged to follow the spirit and not the letter, then it would not merely be possible, but also be very easy for them to legally circumvent the rule of that law.

    (Or are you talking about the government being able to circumvent the rule of law, by passing laws that pass constitutional muster, but are too vague or allow too much discretion to be applied under the rule of law?)

  50. Arnald,
    A quick recap for the hard of thinking;

    At your post 17, you introduced the ‘spirit of the law’.

    At my post 19 I invited you to share ‘the spirit of the law’ with the class.

    By my post 45, I had the impression that you might be prevaricating, but by reminding you of the importance of your insight I thought you might be tempted to reveal what the spirits had told you.

    By your post 47 *you* are telling *me* that “its not the point”.

    No sir. You are not ending this one by raising a point, failing to follow through, then suggesting that *your* point is actually mine. That is just not true.

    Are you able to define your own terms? Or do you no longer believe that the ‘spirit of the law’ is important?

  51. No mention yet of the marvellous coinage “avoision”,the grey area where tax avoidance slips into evasion .Krusty the Clown was done for this.
    Dunno why Tracy W is so uppity: I did nt ask her for anything.And why does she assume I’m male? I could be doing a JK Rowling.
    I was trying to make a general point that high levels of tax are not always , in fact hardly ever,bad for a country.Which is contrary to what the right-wing not very intelligent people believe…. and they are in power.

  52. @Arnald

    “But people are legally able to circumvent the rule of that law.”

    Sorry, but isn’t this just flat-out contradictory? The law definition what is legal and what is not. There is no way to ‘circumvent’ a law that makes the illegal magically become legal.

    What you can do is argue where that line falls, how the various laws interact to define what is legal and what is not. What is avoidance and what is evasion, what is “fiddling” and what is legally using the tax breaks and incentives provided.

    If you choose to base that argument on the spirit of the law(s), you really need to show you understand what that spirit is. And how it’s more sensible than what is actually written, given a lot of the makers of tax law are inconveniently not around to explain it themselves, and only the text remains…

  53. No mention yet of the marvellous coinage “avoision”,the grey area where tax avoidance slips into evasion

    Well yes, that’s because the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is rather clear cut. To quote Denis Healey: “The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall.” To be more accurate, but less vivid, if the judge rules it illegal, it’s tax evasion, if the judge rules it legal, it’s tax avoidance.

    Dunno why Tracy W is so uppity: I did nt ask her for anything

    Oh, so all these comments about how no one had explained had not an ounce of curiousity behind them? I am sorry to hear that my assumption of your openness to debate was incorrect. Not surprised, but sorry.

    And why does she assume I’m male? I could be doing a JK Rowling.

    That was a risk I was consciously aware of, and decided to take, in writing that sentence.

  54. “Who said about “draconian corp tax”?”

    You said ‘Or tax from the profit. Profit which is derived mainly from the work of others. Why should they have to pay more’.

    So you were suggesting higher corporation tax than exists now. And I asked what effect higher corporation tax would have on the likelihood of new businesses coming to the UK, and existing ones leaving. And you still haven’t answered my questions.

    As an aside, do you realise the entire tax take from corporation tax was £36bn in 2009/10? That if you doubled the rate the extra revenue (if you doubled the revenue by doubling the rate, which is VERY unlikely) would only reduce our current overspending from £140bn to just over £100bn?

    ‘Nor did I mention abolishing LL’

    You said ‘have the legal entity ‘not exist’.’

    If the concept of a legal entity of a limited liability company does not exist what would replace it?

    Or are you are suggesting that all company registrations be vetted and the applicant have to prove that the company is being formed for the ‘right’ reasons (how one could prove this I don’t know). The ‘right’ reasons to be decided by the likes of Arnald and RM of course. What effect do you think that might have on the economic growth prospects of the UK?

  55. Jim
    I’m not quite getting through am I? The corps are not paying the full rate of tax as mandated by democracy. They are undermining democracy. Where have I said raise taxes? The profit they earn is shifted away and redeployed. The top brass get paid a fortune. The taxman gets a low percentage of what is legally due. However the law that says “you must pay tax” is circumvented by other laws that say “yeah set up a shell company in Cayman and do that accounting thing”.

    Is it an incentive to hide behind the legislations made in a secrecy jurisdiction? Or is it dicking around to make yourself richer at other people’s expense?

    And Gary, you’re pedant. I made no point. I used the spirit thing to make you understand that there is a law preventing tax dodging, but it is easily circumvented. I couldn’t dodge my PAYE, so why should anyone else dodge their taxes. You’re supposed to be a professional. Fucking open your eyes. You’re too immersed in pedantry to see the harm tax abuse causes.

    And to defend Worstall as not wanting to screw the Exchequer! Priceless. Next you’ll be citing the Taxpayers Alliance, UKIP and fucking Bob Diamond as models for greater Britain!

    Worstall has admitted in his piffle about Plutonomy that greater inequality is inevitable. He denigrates those that try and form strategy to alleviate the problems that arise from this idiocy. He accepts grinding hardship as progress.

    If being a libertarian means shitting on people from a great height, then that’s fine, but don’t pretend you support human progression. You just like shitting on people.

  56. TraceyW
    “(Or are you talking about the government being able to circumvent the rule of law, by passing laws that pass constitutional muster, but are too vague or allow too much discretion to be applied under the rule of law?)”

    maybe so. Which is why we need an effective state that rejects the lobbying of big business. I mean, who is it that advises Treasury on tax laws? Hmm? Surely not the accountancy firms that also advise tax dodgers? That couldn’t be so. No. Surely not.

    Yet you would support a weaker government and a rule of law that suits business and not the state.

    You’re a joke.

  57. “However the law that says “you must pay tax” is circumvented by other laws that say “yeah set up a shell company in Cayman and do that accounting thing”.”

    Arnald, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot. If one law says ‘pay tax’ and the other says ‘don’t pay tax’ on an “accounting thing” or otherwise, is this accounting thing legal or not? You’re ‘spirit of the law’ can’t claim it’s both, unless it’s meths…

    “The point is that tax dodging is not proper for all manner of reasons”
    True, but worthless without a clear definition of tax dodging vs approved ways to reduce tax. Which starts with deciding whether to follow the law as written, imperfect as that may be, or the spirit of the law irrespective of the actual text.

    Which do you support?

    “Worstall has admitted in his piffle about Plutonomy that greater inequality is inevitable. He denigrates those that try and form strategy to alleviate the problems that arise from this idiocy. He accepts grinding hardship as progress.”

    Neither the original document nor Tim’s remarks say anything like this. Inequality is not the same as grinding hardship. And in any case, you’re the one advocating an infinitely benevolent ruling elite to whom we should be glad to send the money we’ve earned.

  58. Arnald said (#59):
    “The corps are not paying the full rate of tax as mandated by democracy.”

    Yes they are. Companies pay the tax imposed on them by the laws passed by our elected MPs.

    That’s the way we do democracy. We elect MPs, they pass laws, the courts apply those laws.

    I don’t know of any companies that have refused to obey tax law. Yes, they might argue about how exactly that law applies to their particular circumstances, but once that’s determined (by the judges), they obey it.

    Companies might not be paying as much tax as you would like them to pay. But that’s what happens in a democracy – we don’t each get exactly what we want.

  59. Oh, and Arnald, poor people can still get richer despite there being more inequality.

    In fact the evidence suggests that poor people get richer more quickly when there is more inequality.

    You see, the economy isn’t a fixed sized cake, with us all squabbling over who gets which slice.

  60. Arnald – I am rather surprised. I asked you if you meant something, and all you can say is “maybe so”? You wrote the original statement, do you really not know what you meant by it?

    Which is why we need an effective state that rejects the lobbying of big business.

    Ah, it’s always nice to meet another Adam Smith fan. 🙂 Welcome to the club!

    Yet you would support a weaker government and a rule of law that suits business and not the state.

    Hmmm, while I am of course happy to welcome you to the Adam Smith fan club, I think you have a while to go. Adam Smith argued, quite convincingly, I thought, that society should be organised so as to maximise the welfare of its citizens, and that the interests of business, should only be attended to, to the extent that is necessary to improve the welfare of the citizens. (This does I admit leave a lot out about conflicting interests between citizens). To quote the bloke:
    “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. ”

    I think this general idea also applies to the interests of the state as well – that the state’s interests should only be attended to as far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the citizen.

    (Of course, I don’t think you are obliged to adopt all of Adam Smith’s ideas, and I disagree with a number of things that he said. But I approve of some bits, and if you have any arguments against Adam Smith’s idea here, and my extension of it, I’d like to hear them.).

    You’re a joke.

    If so then it won’t be the first time that reality is funnier than fiction. I thank you for the compliment, however.

  61. [email protected],
    You are welcome to rant about UKIP or whatever, but all I am hearing is a blatant attempt at deflection to hide that fact that you invoke ‘the spirit of the law’ but you are unable to articulate a clear understanding of what that is.

    You are standing with your pants down and everyone is laughing. You think you know ‘the spirit of the law’, but you cannot even come up with a workable definition. Shouting at us wont stop us laughing.

  62. No not really, Gary. I didn’t say I knew the spirit of the law. All I sais was that the rule of law was being circumvented. In lay terms that means that there may not be anything illegal happening but it gooes against the ‘spirit of the law’ that says you must pay x amount of tax. It’s you that’s pursuing a pedant’s point without addressing the fact that tax dodging is harmful to everyone but a few. You’re fixated, man.

    You can laugh at my pantlessness all you like, but you still come across as an apologist of terrorism and criminality. No backbone against fiddlers.

    Richard
    “In fact the evidence suggests that poor people get richer more quickly when there is more inequality.”

    Cobblers. Just look at Plutonomy.

    “Companies might not be paying as much tax as you would like them to pay. But that’s what happens in a democracy – we don’t each get exactly what we want.”

    I didn’t vote for companies to use articial structures in order to fiddle their taxes for personal gain. The rules are written by the lawyers and accountancy firms. They advise the businesses and the government.

    That ain’t democratic, dear.

    The economy may not be a fixed cake, but the generation of real economy wealth is being taken from those that produce to those that hoard, to churn a false wealth for themselves.

    Wealth means access to power which influences incidence towards them and away from the majority. The concentration of wealth cripples democracy.

    Really, if you can’t see that…

  63. Arnald,
    “You can laugh at my pantlessness all you like, but you still come across as an apologist of terrorism and criminality. No backbone against fiddlers.”

    Yeah maybe, other than the fact that you know already that I work with HMRC as an expert witness to bring to justice exactly the criminals you think I support?!!!

    What precisely do you do – on an active participatory day to day basis – to bring to justice these criminals, terrorists or tax fiddlers?

  64. Arnald,
    If you believe something ‘goes against the spirit of the law’ (as you put it in post 66), how do you know? Surely you must know what the spirit of the law *is* in order to know it has beeen breached? And if you *do* know what the spirit of the law is, why not share it?

  65. You win Gary. I was talking broadly, but since that isn’t allowed here, I’ll try and not be so ideological and be more anal.

    I’ve got to go and save the world now, bye.

  66. Arnald,
    Broad or narrow. No problem there.
    But how can an ideology – however broad or narrow – be based on a premise you can’t even describe? You made it sound pretty clear cut and obvious at the start of this thread. Now you don’t seem so sure.

    Once you can describe what you are actually talking about (i.e. what is the spirit of the law) then we might be able to have as broad a discussion as you like.

    But I rather suspect that you will struggle (have just struggled?) at this seemingly simple first hurdle. It’s a notoriously, deceptively difficult hurdle actually, which is why it has foxed some of our brightest minds for so long.

    In fact, most people who have grappled with it seriously have ended up deciding to stick with what was written down, and take disagreements over gaps and ambiguities to court. A lot like we have now. And what Tim was arguing for, but your Dear Leader Richtchie (unknowingly?) undermines when he promulgates this vague, unexplainable nebulous ‘spirit of the law’ nonesense.

    Which is where came came in I believe. But seriously, there is no harm done with a little grappling with this timeless issue Arnald. Stick with it and see if you manage to reach the same conclusions of the learned through the ages. Alternatively you can listen to vested interests who wish to restructure power systems towards the areas where they believe they are more likely to become the holder of that power.

  67. [in May 2010] The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) told Full Fact that the Tolley’s guide had, as Mr Osborne claimed, mushroomed in size. In a paper on tax law reform to be published next week the CIOT write: “The UK now has the longest primary tax code, and one of the most complicated, in the world. In 2009, Tolley’s tax guide, the handbook of tax legislation, ran to 11,520 pages, a 10% increase on the previous year and more then double the number of pages from 1997.”

    The Tolley’s tax handbooks are indeed in excess of 11,000 pages and have increased considerably in length since 1997.

    http://fullfact.org/factchecks/george_osbornes_tax_book_example-1477

  68. I couldn’t dodge my PAYE, so why should anyone else dodge their taxes.

    Your tax bill is minised by virtue of you using PAYE. That you have to do nothing to minimise your tax bill does not grant you moral superiority over those who have to do a little thinking to minimise theirs. It’ll be a dead cert that were you to be hit with a tax bill you weren’t obliged to pay, you’d challenge it.

  69. Arnald (#66) said:
    “I didn’t vote for companies to use artificial structures in order to fiddle their taxes for personal gain.”

    No, but democracy doesn’t mean that one individual gets what they voted for. Unless you want a very restrictive franchise!

    “The rules are written by the lawyers and accountancy firms.”

    Erm – no. They’re written by civil servants in the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office, working with other civil servants in HMRC.

  70. Arnald you’re talking nonsense.

    ‘The corps are not paying the full rate of tax’

    Parliament mandates that a company pays corporation tax of (I think ) 28% (it may be less now). However Parliament also mandates for all sorts of exemptions, such as capital allowances, major subsidiary disposal relief (as used by the GMG), research and development allowances, interest payments being tax allowable etc etc. When these allowances are applied to operating profits, the taxable profit drops. Thus a company may pay less than 28% on its operating profits.

    THIS IS NOT TAX AVOIDANCE OR EVASION.

    It is the lawful use of allowances as mandated by the democratically elected Parliament. If you don’t like it, campaign for different tax laws. But don’t accuse people of ‘getting round the law’ when they are doing exactly what the letter (and even the spirit of the law) decrees.

    ‘The top brass get paid a fortune’:

    You do realise that if the company pays its CEO £1m, the taxman gets more money than if they pay him £100k and pay corporation tax on the remainder?

    If you want big business to pay more tax you should be campaigning for higher executive pay, not cutting it.

    “The taxman gets a low percentage of what is legally due”:

    This would be tax evasion, if a corporation were paying less than its legal requirements. Please provide an example.

  71. Yes, Jim, taken as read. What about the rest of the tricks? I’m quite sure those corps and those CEOs, those hedge fund managers and those PE types are paying their due. I’m glad you have such faith.

    Meanwhile, in offshore world…

    Richard

    The CS gets its advice from where, pray tell? Does it hire consultants? Who are they?

    That’s just blind faith once again. It’s like a religion this nonsense.

  72. “That’s just blind faith once again. It’s like a religion this nonsense.”

    Where are your facts? Where are your concrete examples of the things you say are going on? All I see is broad brush statements with zero evidence to back it up.

  73. Arnald
    You are right that you are just not getting through.
    You seem to believe that evil corporations are cheating HMRC by only paying UK tax on profits earned in the UK or remitted to the UK or earned overseas by “controlled foreign companies” and paying taxes to the US IRS on profits earned in the USA. The reason why Barclays pays such a small percentage of its global profits in UK tax is that most of ts profits are earned the USA and its pays US taxes on those profits. The last time I saw the numbers, the FTSE-100 companies earned more profits in the USA than in the UK.
    You will *never* get through to me the concept that it is stealing to pay taxes to the government of the state where those profits are earned instead of to Richard Murphy.

  74. Arnald,

    “The CS gets its advice from where, pray tell? Does it hire consultants? Who are they?”

    Answer: PricewaterhouseCoopers et al do just nicely thanks very much advising them.

  75. “I couldn’t dodge my PAYE, so why should anyone else dodge their taxes.”.

    Arnald, you live in Guernsey. There is no PAYE in Guernsey.

    “I didn’t vote for companies to use articial structures in order to fiddle their taxes for personal gain.”

    Arnald, you live in Guernsey. Who did you vote for, as I’m not aware of any candidates who were campaining to end the finance industry in Guernsey? Did you even vote?

  76. Hey Guerner
    Erm….no PAYE in Guernsey? Are you being like the other pedants here? Last time I looked I was PAYE’d. And that was yesterday.

    Funny you should talk about elections in Guernsey. Where I was working we had managerial communications, meetings and seminars to NOT vote for anyone that had a bad word to say about the OFC clinging to our rock. It was a directive handed out from a conference held by GuernseyFinance LBG.

    Who said I wanted the end of the finance industry in Guernsey? All I ask for is transparency and honesty. Opponents to transparency, who use “you want the end of our prosperity” are purely apologists to criminality.

    People moan about government accountability: I vote for those that believe in it, not for those that are slaved to corps that display the opposite.

    You?

  77. Arnald @82,
    Not being funny, but I don’t understand your response. Are you saying PwC don’t advise HMRC (and I am a ‘fuck up’ for saying they do)? Or that they do but you know the advice is wrong (and the PwC people are ‘fuck ups’ because of the bad advice)?

    ‘Broad’ is not a euphimism for ‘unsubstantiated bollocks’. On what basis do you come your broad conclusion?

  78. Arnald,
    As I re-read it, I *think* I see now that you are saying that it’s PwC who are the fuckups. 160,000 people worldwide. All fuckups. It’s certainly a ‘broad idoelogy’.

    OK, lets run with it. Back at post 76, you were arguing with Jim that HMRC were disadvantaged because Corporates had access to top consultants giving them advice, which HMRC couldn’t get. I pointed out to you at post 79 that HMRC *do* get advice from consultants (e.g. PwC).

    Now at post 82 you think the consultants are all ‘fuck ups’. I’m not sure where you are trying to go here Arnald. Is it:

    1) PwC (and others) do provide advice to both parties, but since PwC (and others) are all ‘fuck ups’ we have equivalence of arms?; or

    2) PwC (and others) do provide advice to both parties, but since PwC (and others) are all ‘fuck ups’ they are part of a Global NeoCon Conspiracy (TM) to give all the good advice to the Corporates and all the shit advice to HMRC (as per the Bilderbeck Club/Elders of Zion accord) so the playing field is unfair?

    Who exactly *would* you like HMRC to get advice from? And how do you know they are not getting it already? Do you have any actual experience of the resources under HMRC’s command or are you getting this from Polly?

    Yours awaiting evidence, experience or even logic,
    Gary

  79. PwC and the other big accountancy firms should be held to account for the number of huge audit and advisory ‘errors’ in their name.

    For those companies that are heavily implicated in the recent crash to maintain this “mightier than thou” miasma is an insult.

    How the hell is anyone supposed to trust the advice?

    No personal offence intended, just noting that audit and consultancy firms seem to be ‘protected’ from real scrutiny.

    I think people tend to forget that ‘the state’ is advised by the same private companies that fuck up, but it’s the state that gets a hammering from libertarians (see Blair/Brown).

    The right wing even exonerate Thatcher for toe-ing an untested strategy and manage to put all the blame on the ‘feckless Unions’, rather than acknowledging that consultancy bodies are not ‘all in this together’.

    etc

  80. Arnald,

    OK, so I *think* you are going for option 1.

    Since you seem to be saying that both parties get error-laden, fucked-up advice from protected, accountability-free firms, then HMRC *cannot* be at the disadvantage you initially claimed?

  81. Arnald, we don’t run a true PAYE system in Guernsey.

    As for voting, which candidates at the last election stood for government accountability?

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