So The Greens Didn\’t Do Any Tax Avoidance Says Richard Murphy

That’s not bad, but I prefer to compare tax avoidance, which is hard to define, with tax compliance which I find easier to define. Tax compliance is 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.

In that case tax avoidance happens whenever someone chooses a course of action which results in the wrong amount of tax being paid, in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Arcadia, the company, paid full corporation tax on its profits. Sir Philip Green paid full income tax on his salary. Lady Green is a foreign citizen living in foreign. We do not tax the incomes of foreigns living in foreign. For the economic substance of the transaction is the personal income of a foreign in foreign.

The Greens did not indulge in any tax avoidance therefore says Murphy.

So Vodafone Didn\’t Do Any Tax Avoidance Says Murphy

That’s not bad, but I prefer to compare tax avoidance, which is hard to define, with tax compliance which I find easier to define. Tax compliance is 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.

In that case tax avoidance happens whenever someone chooses a course of action which results in the wrong amount of tax being paid, in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

The UK Uncut/Private Eye thing about Vodafone was that UK corporation tax had not been paid on profits made in Germany on selling phones to Germans from German shops. Given that the economic substance of this activity was in Germany then whatever tax the Germans wished to charge on this activity was the correct amount of tax to pay.

Thus Vodafone did not indulge in any tax avoidance.

Behind the Times paywall

I was contacted yesterday by a reporter from The Times about the new Chinese plan for the rare earths industry. The piece should be up today. But of course I\’m outside the paywall.

Might anyone who can get through the paywall see if the piece is there so that I can see what they said I said?

Well yes Sir Simon

To add irony to injury, those who seem most obsessed with avoiding tax are, after financiers, people in the arts and sport

Those are the three groups that have high incomes. Thus any study of those trying to dodge taxes on high incomes will find members of those three groups.

This just isn\’t rocket science.

Polly and numbers

Just don\’t mix all that well, do they?

A quarter of a million new homes a year are needed just to keep pace. Last year just 100,000 were built, the fewest in decades, with only 16,000 so-called \”affordable\” homes, still unaffordable for many.

\”Affordable\” is a euphemism for housing association and local council. Who built more like 34,000.

This may or may not be enough but it\’s certainly different from 16,000.

She does love to return to this argument, doesn\’t she? As a dog returneth to its own vomit.

Even in the boom years, when average prices rose by £50 a day between the owner going to work and returning at night, developers refused to build. They sat on land banks watching values rise. Sitting on prime land with planning for 300,000 homes, they build in neither boom nor in slump, when borrowing is cheap. Only government intervention breaks that deadlock, with threat of fines or compulsory land purchase.

Hands up folks. How long does it take to get planning permission? Whay\’s that? Two to three years you say?

So an industry making sure that it has sufficient inputs given the time it takes to replace those inputs is what? Speculating on land prices or being fucking sensible?

One golden key is to entice investment into good new homes for rent. Local authority pension funds should invest in local building on land released by councils.

What? If building homes for rent is a good idea then great, invest in them under the normal fiduciary duty to maximise returns on pension assets. And why limit it to local authority pension plans?

And if it\’s not a good idea to do this financially then why screw the local authority pensioners? It\’s not the building houses for rent thing. It\’s why should one specific pension plan get privileged or screwed?

Oh dear God:

Also expect Dromey\’s first step to promise decent terms for the burgeoning numbers of private tenants, especially families. No more six-month tenancies, as a million people are moved on every year. Leases will be long term, with action to prevent soaring rents.

The cunts are going to bring back rent controls. As has been pointed out, nothing destroys the housing stock better than this: other than aerial bombing.

The tightrope walk for Labour is to banish the frenetic culture of house-price gambling without discouraging home ownership; to grow new investors in good private rentals while curbing profiteering landlords; to release land for building, and force developers to do their job. Above all, to use that painfully familiar phrase, use firm regulation to abolish boom and bust – at least in house prices.

There\’s a terribly simple way to do this. The majority of the market value of a house these days is the value of the permission to build it. Planning permission. It ain\’t the house and it ain\’t the land. It\’s the ability to put one on the other which costs all the cash.

So issue more and the price will come down. It just isn\’t that damn difficult.

So here\’s an interesting question

We know that people have generally been getting taller (erm, OK, the average height of those alive has been rising, not that individuals necessarily grow) over the past century or so.

I\’ve been looking around, but cannot find, a time series that tells me the average American height over that time.

I\’ve a basic working assumption which is that something changed around 1980. Ish.

Very roughly indeed, the idea that being stunted by lack of childhood nutrition was something that stopped being a (widespread) problem in the US around or just after WWII. Mebbe a little later. Could even have been the War on Poverty etc of the 60s.

Given human lifespans this doesn\’t start to feed through (sorry) into a change in the average heights of the population until the 80s and obviously it\’s a continuing process still now.

It would also probably be best to have the data broken out by race: as average heights between races are very different and, say, Hispanic immigration might have kept the population average down but not the white/black or Hispanic.

So, does anyone know of such a time series? Average heights in the US by age/race post war?

The purpose is of course terribly flawed. There\’s one statistic out there which changes significantly starting in the 1980s. What I\’m trying to ponder is whether height explains that change…..

It\’s morally wrong to shag your wife\’s sister

\”But some of these schemes we have seen are quite frankly morally wrong.

\”The Government is acting by looking at a general anti avoidance law but we do need to make progress on this.\”

Doesn\’t mean we have a law against it though.

For the law isn\’t and shouldn\’t be based upon morality. Most certainly not the Prime Minister\’s personal vision of morality….we\’ve been down that route before and didn\’t like it at all.


To elaborate for unlearning econ\’s benefit.

Until quite recently the majority views in this country included……we should have capital punishment for it\’s moral that if you take a life you lose yours. That buggery should be a criminal offence because, well, it\’s immoral, innit? To the point actually that there was one year when more were hung for sodomy than were for murder.

We\’ve also had variations of morality: plays, the threatre, Christmas, were declared immoral by our rulers at one point and thus banned. Well into the lifetimes of those living now we had censorship of theatres for \”immorality\”. We currently have laws against the ingestion of recreational pharmaceuticals on no more basis that I can divine than that they are immoral.

There are two related problems here with basing the law on a moral basis. The first is that to impose a particular morality on all is simply an imposition, a denial of liberty and freedom. The second is that there are a number of different moralities. Whose is to be imposed?

For example, take the vexed question of abortion. At one end we have those who insist that it is immoral, anywhen and anywhere. I include myself among these extremists. At the other end of the spectrum there are those who would at the very least encourage abortion if not actually insist upon it. Perhaps the eugenicists might insist upon the abortion of the \”unfit\”, or there\’s at least one country where today if you have a second child without a licence they will, sometimes at least, perform a forced abortion at 7 or 8 months.

No, we cannot base the law on such moral visions.


Do stop being an idiot Matthew Norman

The serious point here is not about individuals avoiding their tax in what must ritualistically be termed an entirely legal way. The central question is how in the name of all the saints, but particularly that tax collector St Matthew, it is legal at all. A while ago, George Osborne described \”aggressive\” tax avoidance as \”morally repugnant\”. Perhaps the Chancellor has performed another of his nifty U-turns on the sly, but, according to the K2 mountaineer taped by The Times, circumnavigating tax is as easy as ever.


The only credible explanation for this failure is lack of political desire… a sort of wilful blindness, to borrow the phrase routinely applied to senior News International management, to practices which simply cannot be that hard to outlaw. If the Government chose, it could legislate next month to ensure that every ha\’penny of self-employed income is taxed at normal rates; and that if philanthropists like Mr Carr wish to loan money to a film production company, they do so out of earned income in the traditional commercial way, offsetting any losses against future income if the company were to go bust.

Look, please just stop being stupid.

The other side of this is all the luvvies gagging for their tax subsidy.

British Films and Tax Relief

The BFI is the national body in charge of the qualification of British films. Films can qualify as British in one of three ways. They must meet the requirements of one of the following:

* The Cultural Test
* One of the UK\’s official bilateral co-production treaties
* The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production

For more information about the certification unit and the different ways productions can qualify as British, please visit the dedicated page on the BFI Certification Unit website.

Etc etc blah blah blah.

You cannot abolish this sort of tax avoidance unless you also abolish the tax reliefs.

Now me, I\’m just fine with that. Low tax rates with minimal or no allowances and reliefs. Bring it on. It\’s everyone else who thinks that the government should play favourites with hte tax system and subsidies which gives room for the tax avoidance.

And guess what? The film tax breaks have just been extended to TV shows! Carr could lend himself his own money and get the tax relief now!


The amazing disappearing Sunny post

Sunny had a post up this morning which I thought was really rather amusing.

London cable car to be governed by Dubai law


Readers, say hello to the scary new world of outsourcing.

In eight days time the ‘Emirates AirLine’ will be open to customers in London. From midday, 28th June, anyone willing to pay 6.40 will be able to take a cable car from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks.

The cable car, initially estimated to cost £25m by Mayor Boris Johnson (it was his pet project), was supposed to be fully financed privately.

That estimate was then increased to £45m, with Transport for London admitting it would use its own budget. Then TfL admitted the total cost would be £60m and it was paying for it out of the rail budget.

Not only the travel costs more than double for ordinary London travel, but they don’t add up.

You can read more about the Cable Car on the Emirates AirLine website. The Emirates is a Dubai based corporation whose principal place of business is at Emirates Group Headquarters, United Arab Emirates.

But the most interesting part of the website are the Terms and Conditions for the Cable Car service (h-t Mayor Watch)

9. Jurisdiction

9.1. You agree that: (i) the Service shall be deemed solely based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and (ii) the Service shall be deemed a passive website that does not give rise to personal jurisdiction over Emirates, either specific or general, in jurisdictions other than Dubai.

These Terms of Service shall be governed by the laws of Dubai, without respect to its conflict of laws principles.

Any claim or dispute between you and Emirates that arises in whole or in part from the Service shall be decided exclusively by a court of competent jurisdiction located in Dubai.

Emphasis mine.

I’m no lawyer, but that suggests to me if you want to raise a dispute with this London-based cable car service, which was commissioned by the Mayor of London, you’ll actually have to rely on Dubai law and/or go to a court in Dubai.

Welcome to the new world of private out-sourcing.

Several of us pointed out that this jurisdiction matter referred to the website, not the cable car.

It\’s clearly some fault with the intertubes that I can\’t seem to gain access to this post any more and had to copy it from the RSS feed. For the correct response to some act of barking stupidity is to admit it, no, rather than attempt to excise it from memory?

Slightly odd and rather fun

So yesterday the World Service interviewed me briefly about rare earths, China, Japan and Vietnam.

Hmm, *shrug*.

Today Radio France Internationale interviewed me about the Chinese position paper on rare earths.

Do they listen to each other and then when looking for someone willing to spout off just contact whoever the other guys had?


High technology baffles Timmy: Help!

I need page two of this file as a .jpg or something that I can add to a blog post.

And I cannot for the life of me work out how to do it.


Anyone with a clue?


Update: It appears that many of you have a clue. I now have this and will use it at Forbes later today. Many thanks to Nathan and Steve who sent copies (one .jpg, one .png and one of those two will definitely work).



Ritchie calls for state slavery

I have long argued for what I call a ‘passport tax’.

Again he calls for it in fact. He wants to take the most objectionable part of the US tax system and graft it onto our own. If you have a British passport then your income is the property of the British Government for them to plunder at will.

I don\’t know whether the Murphmeister has a UK passport or not. But I do know that he has an Irish one. And also that his Irish tax bill would be higher than his UK one. I think we\’d like to see a little walking of the walk here, wouldn\’t we?

A copy of the tax return that Murphy has filed in Dublin along with the extra payment over and above what he gets away with in the tax haven of Britain?


Cherie Blair on feminism

Apparently now it\’s the freedom to do as I say not the freedom to do as you want.

The wife of the former Prime Minister also accused some young women of seeking to “marry a rich husband and retire” instead of working.

Mrs Blair, a QC and mother of four, criticised women who “put all their effort into their children” instead of working. Mothers who go out to work are setting a better example for their children, she said.

Booze limits nonsense once again

Excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy is known to harm babies, causing a range of health problems from behavioural disorders and impaired IQ to facial disfigurement.

Consequently the Department of Health recommends that women should either avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy or have very little.

Its guidelines state that women who do chose to drink should consume no more than a medium-sized glass (175ml) of wine, two units, twice a week.

But Danish researchers have now found that drinking up to three times that amount appears to have no negative effect on children.

They decided to examine the issue because few studies have looked at the health effects on children of light or moderate drinking during pregnancy.

The important point being made here is that no one has actually studied this before. Or very little: the guidelines have been plucked whole from temperance campaigners arses.

Yes, there really is something called FAS but for the vast majority of pregnant women and their typical drinking habits a glass of something relaxing does more good in hte relaxing than in the harm of the booze.

As is broadly true of most people\’s drinking habits in fact. As yer man Paracelsus pointed out, the poison is the dose.


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is seeking political asylum at Ecuador\’s London embassy.

This is something I\’ve really never understood.

For the US to extradite him from the UK would be easier than extraditing him from Sweden. For the UK/US extradition treaty is pretty simple isn\’t it? We\’d like him, here, have him? The NatWest bankers, Chairman of Morgan Crucible, Gary Mackinnon….OK, that last might not be so simple but the arguments aren\’t about whether the law says they can have him. They\’re about whether there\’s some exception that her can squeeze through aren\’t they?

That\’s at least the impression I get anyway (and yes, please do correct me) so the whole \”If I\’m sent to Sweden then the Americans will get me\” shtick just doesn\’t seem to work, does it?

No, don\’t think I like this

Journalists and photographers on publications will not be able to apply for a press card if their employer refuses to sign up to the Press Complaints Commission code of practice, under a kitemark proposal due to be voted on by the board of the body that issues accreditation this week.

Not at all. Far too close to trying to define who is worthy enough to be allowed to report the news and who is not. There are countries that have this formally established and I most certainly don\’t like that idea.

This is supposedly voluntary, private sector, and I still don\’t like it. Just don\’t like the idea of anyone at all getting to decide who is a journalist worth of reporting the news and who is not.

To take a trivial example. I once dug some information out of the Treasury (the number of people who had made donations to the tax authorities). Ended up being used in a piece in The Times. But while I was digging for it I was not a \”journalist\”. Had no paper behind me. No accreditation. No PCC cover.

You can look at this one way: Treasury treated me (knowing that I was merely a blogger) well, in that they got the information although rather more slowly I suspect than they would have done for someone more important. So, given that this scheme will not be compulsory, what will change?

Well, I think that it will be all too easy for press offices to say, OK, now that there is this scheme if you\’re not on it you don\’t get to come through the press office. Which I think would be a bad thing.