For Ritchie, even the spirit of the law isn\’t enough now

Ben Saunders is technically right. He also spectacularly misses the point. Google is tax avoiding: by definition that means what they are doing is legal, of course. And it may even be that what Google is doing is within the spirit of EU law, although that is to simply miss the fact that EU tax laws have now been spectacularly rigged to advantage companies over people so that the spirit of the law has itself been corrupted.

The claims get ever more extreme, don\’t they? We started out with tax avoidance being going against the spirit of he law even if entirely within the letter. Now the claim is that even if you\’re within the spirit of the law you can be tax avoiding.

I have a feeling that tax avoidance is really anything that Ritchie doesn\’t approve of…..

But if a corporation claims to be moral, as Google does, and then acts to deny those in need the resources required to ensure that their needs can be met – and that’s what’s now happening in a world where without exception cuts are impacting on the poor, the young, on education, on healthcare and life prospects, then the choice Google has made is, I think, an evil one.

If that contention were actually to be taken seriously then The Tax Gap Ltd would have some \’splainin\’ to do. For The Tax Gap Ltd has, entirely legally and entirely within both the letter and spirit of the law, some assets. There are people in this world dying, at this very moment, from lack of the assets to purchase food and or medicine, some of them even water. Morality, as above, would insist that the Tax Gap Ltd\’s assets be deployed providing the resources required to ensure that their needs can be met. They aren\’t.

Therefore the Tax Gap Ltd is evil.

14 thoughts on “For Ritchie, even the spirit of the law isn\’t enough now”

  1. Following Richie’s logic, as his time is also a resource, as well as spending Tax Gap Ltd’s assets on the poor, he would also need to take up a full-time unpaid voluntary role helping the needy.

  2. By the way, who is this Ritchie bloke (apart from being a prize idiot)? He’s an endless source of amusement, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him outside Tim’s blog.

  3. Has Ritchie ever publicly announced his position of what the pricing structure should be for Google’s free products?

    He’s mad keen on Google paying every penny of tax. Maybe Google should return the favour and start charging for everything.

    What does he think we should pay to access Google maps or Streetview? 1p a visit? 10p? What should businesses that piggy-back partially or entirely on the back of FREE technologies Google has invented or acquired (Maps, Blogger, Chrome, Adsense fees, YouTube), be forced to pay for using their products? Should they be forced out of business, causing redundancies and non-payment of tax revenue?

    Come on Ritchie, what should Google charge?

  4. Ritchie is a moralist. We’d all agree that the law and morality don’t always coincide. Since he rarely calls for the law to be changed, I don’t know why he mentions it. Probably because otherwise it would just be his blathering about what he considers righteous.

    Doesn’t sound so impressive, does it. “Google aren’t righteous!”

    “For example, John Rawls wrote a whole book called A Theory Of Justice which purports to be a rigorous rational derivation of the New Deal regime. The fact that this work appeared in the 1970s, whereas the coup it exists to excuse occurred in the 1930s, should clue you in to the difficulty of Rawls’ masterful performance. Of course, the Justice that Rawls so elaborately elucidates has nothing at all to do with the original English meaning of the word justice or its Latin basis, that is, the accurate application of the law. Rawls’ ideal is probably best given in pre-Rawlsian English as Righteousness. But it would be rather hard to call a book A Theory Of Righteousness without provoking at least a snicker or two.”

  5. Of course, all those resources taken by the courageous state will need someone to supervise their fair and equitable distribution to those who need them. I wonder if Ritchie has anyone in mind for the job?

  6. “EU tax laws have now been spectacularly rigged to advantage companies over people”

    Seems to me we have the mirror image of the tax incidence issue: any tax advantage to a company will accrue in some proportion to its owners, suppliers, and staff.

  7. Isn’t the basic premise of tax avoidance that you arrange your affairs (or your company’s affairs, or you create a company, or whatever) in such a way in order to reduce the tax incidence, without changing the underlying economic activity?

    That is, the real economic activity – the actual buying and selling of goods and services – is the same, but the tax incidence is lower.

    Contra Richard Murphy, I don’t think there is a moral obligation on people to arrange their affairs such that they maximise their tax, rather I think there is a duty on the state to ensure that the same economic activity results in the same tax being paid, and that rearranging the labels on the pots the money gets paid into should not result in a change to the tax liability.

  8. “Ritchie isn’t a moralist… he’s a statist.

    There’s a difference and it is important.”

    What’s the difference?

  9. Moralists may seek to impose their particular morals by example, persuasion or nagging.

    Ritchie seeks to impose his through the threat of force behind the criminal law.

    By the way, who is this Ritchie bloke (apart from being a prize idiot)? He’s an endless source of amusement, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him outside Tim’s blog.

    Dave, I wish we were so lucky. He is the “the seventh most influential left wing thinker” according to “Left Foot in our Mouths” and according to his own publicity, Britain’s #1 economics blogger and Britain’s leading expert on tax.

    He shills for the TUC and for the Taxmans’ Union. He is beloved of the economic ignorami (is that right?) of the juvenile left (Occupyitall, UK Untroubledbycompetence etc), and the similarly ignorant progressive media – espec the Grun and the Beeb.

    He used to be an accountant advising people how to dodge tax.

  10. I can state with some confidence that “ignoramus” in Latin is a first person plural verb – “we do not know” – and not a second declension noun. The English plural should therefore be “ignoramuses”.

    I am less confident about Google’s tax affairs. Its motto “don’t be evil” is supposed to tell it to do nothing that feels wrong, regardless of whether it would be legally permissible. I suppose it’s up to Google what feels wrong to it, and up to the rest of us whether to give it any credit for the motto.

  11. @Richard Gadsen:

    What you suggest is fairly simple to achieve, but like all choices in life, has consequences. For example a flat rate income/profits/capital gains tax with zero exemptions/allowances would do the job. But the Left don’t like flat rate taxes. They want progressive rates, with all sorts of exemptions for their pet projects. And once you give exemptions you open the door to avoidance, by people aiming to take advantage of the exemption, despite not ‘really’ qualifying.

    For example, the individual taxation of married (and non married but partnered) women is considered by pretty much all sides to be ‘a good thing’. But it allows Philip Green to arrange things such that his wife owns the assets he runs, to shrill screams of ‘immoral tax avoidance!’.

    And there is always the international aspect to consider – we in the UK could unilaterally tax dividends being sent abroad at the same rate as all other income/profits. But we would soon find ourselves paying the same (or higher) rates in retribution by foreign governments, for no great benefit. And as mentioned before, such a policy has consequences – the main one being foreigners won’t set up businesses here, because they will lose the profits in tax.

    Life is a balancing act. You make choices, and those choices have consequences. You cannot control those consequences, they are external to you, or indeed to the nation state. What RM and his ilk wish to do is to make choices without consequences. They might as well try and make water run uphill. It cannot be done, but that won’t stop them pretending it can be, and trying to convince everyone that it is possible, if only everyone did what they want.

  12. “Dave // Aug 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    By the way, who is this Ritchie bloke (apart from being a prize idiot)? He’s an endless source of amusement, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him outside Tim’s blog.

    He is on the radio quite a lot. Why Tim isn’t invited to provide a counter I don’t know. It can’t be because the BBC is biased.

    Tim adds: That’s more easily explained. I have been on the radio a few times. Even on TV (admittedly, Press TV). The reason I’m not on a lot more is because I don’t live in London (or even the UK).

    This sounds rather big headed but is true. If I were to base myself in London then I’d be on the radio at least several times a month. But the £50 the BBC pays you for being on a show just isn’t enough to tempt me to live in London.

    Having actually lived in London for a year, comparing it to how I live here in Portugal, I’d put the amount necessary to equalise lifestyles at about £50k a year post tax. And that’s probably after housing costs too.

  13. “The reason I’m not on a lot more is because I don’t live in London (or even the UK).”
    Is that strictly true, Tim, or does it more reflect the way the BBC likes to operate? When I was in the UK I used to listen to LBC a lot. Before that the old Talk Radio before it became Talk Sport & even after for the non-sport programs. It was fairly obvious, many of the ‘studio’ discussions, at least one of the participants was piped in by phone. And both used to get some really interesting participants. People you’d never of heard from otherwise.
    BBC does this sometimes but doesn’t seem to like to. Reasons? Part of it’s employment. Friend of mine used to do the links on TV. Those 43 second of dialogue between programmes. For that she had a producer & scriptwriter. (Both gay & she’s bi – for a factoid). That’s without the technical support. (Preferences unspecified) Studio guests require meeters & greeters, green room, hands on… But also, BBC likes the ‘committed’. Those that will take 2-3 hours to schlep down to the studio to make their point. It selects for those that have the 2-3 hours. Paid mouthpieces. Pols. Fanatics. The usual suspects. Selects against those operating in the real world who don’t have the time because they’re doing real things with it. People who don’t necessarily subscribe to the progressive/liberal groupthink.

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