The Murphmeister and the law

In which we subcontract out the necessity of Murphy being taught the difference between Common Law and the Napoleonic code with a damn girt cluebat to the Misanthrope Girl.

Dear God the man can be stupid.

He then tells us that there\’s a common lawe offence of cheating. Which therefore, yah boo sucks, makes him right and the Revenue can prosecute Jimmy Carr and the likes for cheating.

William Harkins said that \”all frauds affecting the Crown and public at large are indictable as cheats at common law.\”[7] This passage was cited in R v Mulligan [1990] Crim LR 427.

So let us take this at face value then. We have two options when considering tax avoidance.

1) The Revenue does not prosecute tax avoiders because it\’s not fraud and therefore it\’s not cheating. Collapse of Ritchie\’s entire case against tax avoidance.

2) Tax avoidance is fraud, is cheating, therefore there is a law against it if the Revenue wishes to use it. Therefore we do not need any more laws about tax avoidance, no not even a general anti avoidance principle, because the law already contains the necessary powers. Collapse of Ritchie\’s entire argument for a change in the law.

There are no other possible arguments. Either tax avoidance is cheating in which case we have a law against it or it is not cheating in which case we do not need a law against it, do we?

13 thoughts on “The Murphmeister and the law”

  1. Quoting @realpengy “I don’t dislike left-leaning folk. I admire the philosophy. I’ve yet to hear how it will work.”

  2. I really don’t understand the problem here. Tax avoidance is the organising of one’s affairs so as to avoid tax liability. It is everyone’s right to organise their affairs howsoever they wish, and one is not obliged to organise them to the benefit of the Inland Revenue nor anyone else.

    Tax evasion is the failure to pay tax which is legally due, and is illegal.

  3. Sooner or later Murphy will go too far, accuse someone who is arranging his tax affairs as MinM describes above of tax evasion (a criminal offence) and then be prosecuted for libel. When that happens I hope the bastard gets absolutely hammered in court.

  4. Murph’s latest Twittervomit says:

    ‘There is no presumption of innocence in tax: you sign to say your tax return is right and are guilty if it isn’t’

    He’s missed (amongst most other things) the bits about ‘best of my knowledge & belief’ and the fact that HMRC approved schemes are, by definition, ‘right’.

  5. Trapped by Wikipedia. The quote rather amusingly contains a typo – check the citation; should be ‘Hawkins’. Wikipedia is, needless to say, not correct on this somewhat complicated area of law.

    It’s quite clear from the original context of Hawkin’s words – available on Google books, starting on page 320 with the quote appearing on page 322 – that in fact ‘cheat’ does not mean what Murphy wants it to mean. What’s more, the common law offence referred to has been multiply succeeded by acts of Parliament making specific offences.


    “There are no other possible arguments. Either tax avoidance is cheating in which case we have a law against it or it is not cheating in which case we do not need a law against it, do we?”

    There is the alternative argument that Murphy is wrong in law, but right in principle. That argument’s wrong, but it is an alternative 🙂

  6. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Is there a law that permits the Murph to inhale, thus stealing oxygen from the rest of us? I’m sure there isn’t, in which case he should clearly be prohibited from doing so.

  7. What gets me about this Jimmy Carr/ K2 business, is that the schemehad been decalred to HMRC. If they wish, they can therefore (in due course, close it. I would suggest that having Jimmy Carr use it would bring that about much more quickly. Maybe he should get a gong for services to closing tax loopholes…?

    Pity he’s not funny, though…

  8. Is he never going to realise that everyone practices tax avoidance. For example, I avoid gaming and tobacco taxes by not gambling or smoking. My friend in New Zealand avoids UK income tax by living and working in, and being a citizen of, NZ. Should everyone be prosecuted?

  9. Government urges people to give up smoking by raising taxes on cigarettes. People stop smoking. People avoid cigarette taxes by doing so. Ergo people are criminals.

  10. Tax Avoidance is NOT cheating; tax evasion IS cheating. Murphy is trying to fool people into believing that (legal) tax avoidance is (illegal) tax evasion by the tactic of repeating a lie so often that people get so used to hearing it that they believe it must be true.
    I avoid tax by paying premiums to buy a pension (which I may enjoy if I live long enough). This is neither illegal nor immoral but it is tax avoidance and I *can* point to a law permitting it. Murphy is lying when he says I cannot.
    @Peter S I can’t afford a libel lawyer, but on this I don’t need one.

  11. Can I add to the comment at 10.

    The common law and statutory offences of cheating apply only to evasion, not to avoidance.

    The essential difference in this context, between avoidance and evasion, is one of dishonest behaviour. Acts, or omissions, which are not held to be dishonest, cannot be criminal.

  12. Murphy is strangley silent about the Times’ tax campaign. Anyone would think he is gutted because he has so little impact relative to Murdoch’s organ

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