Timmy elsewhereMay 10, 2014 Tim WorstallTimmy Elsewhere24 CommentsAt the ASI. People dodging taxes does not harm the economy. The Treasury, perhaps, but not the economy. previousAnd David Cameron can kiss my freckled hairy arsenextInteresting 24 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere” Bernie G. May 10, 2014 at 8:59 am I’m quite capable of spending my own money, it doesn’t have to go through a middleman. JimW May 10, 2014 at 9:12 am The Daily Mash put it pithily, on the subject of untaxed payments to tradesmen: “It’s only untaxed until it gets to the pub.” Pat May 10, 2014 at 9:14 am Tax avoidance does no harm to the actual economy as you say. However, since the transactions aren’t recorded, they cannot be included in calculations of GDP, so they do affect the main measure of economic activity. I wish people could remember that economic indicatores are just estimates, not hard facts PF May 10, 2014 at 10:43 am There was an interesting article a while back on how the increase (ie change) in internet activity may be distorting GDP figures? Ie, changes in the way that substantial value was being created and delivered but not always financially recorded by traditional GDP measures; hence, GDP being generally understated throughout this period of recent growth of the internet? @ Pat Doesn’t change the argument, but the “dodging” bit is evasion rather than legitimate avoidance. Ironman May 10, 2014 at 11:00 am Avoidance and evasion are different animals, both in their economic effect and their impact on the social fabric (sorry to talk about ‘social’ but it we do live in a society). Can we start this by agreeing that we do need tax and anybody that thinks we don’t has already declared himself an idiot. From there we move to macroeconomic effects of fiscal policy (austerity preceded by Brown pissing it up the wall). We also move to the notion of ‘fair share’, taking in Murphy’s twisted unchristian desire to kill off all corporates and the rich. Yet ‘fair share’ means we all on this blog should be paying something; not nothing. So what is my/your fair share? We need also to look at evasion in places like Greece, because that.sure as hell DID damage the economy. And we need to put avoidance in perspective. Van_Patten May 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm Ironman Good morning – meant to compliment you on your exchange with Arnald on the ‘Caffe Nero’ thread. Dealt with him far more patiently than I could. I agree we need a level of tax – the obvious debate is what that level should be. I think The point is that to equate the Treasury with the economy is a whole is inaccurate and, furthermore is a classic example of the Left trying to’define the narrative’.For Murphy, ‘l’etat,c’est tout’ so in fact he would happily argue that the Treasury is the the equivalent of the state as it suits his purpose to do so. I don’t feel that is an accurate narrative, and we should not be playing the game by his rules. Ironman May 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm Van Neither do I. ‘L’etat, c’est tout’ that sums him up brilliantly. I wonder when Socialism shifted from being the philosophy of the working class and became advocacy for the state. The Thought Gang May 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm @ Ironman I think it was when the savvy advocates realised where the money is. Runcie Balspune May 10, 2014 at 2:21 pm It’s like the generic “x doesn’t pay tax”, it really means that x doesn’t pay UK tax, or doesn’t pay UK tax directly (but gives it to other people instead who then pay UK tax). Most of these complaints are not really about the moral issues, but of control, or lack of. Ironman May 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm Runcie No, there is a moral dimension to tax evasion. 1. We either believe in the law that governs our society or we don’t; let’s not pretend pick’n’choose is legitmate. 2. Two self -employed traders in the same town. One pays his tax; the other doesn’t. The first gets unde- cut by the second; pure cheat. Jim May 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm “there is a moral dimension to tax evasion” Not in my world there isn’t. I am scrupulous in paying all I should (despite plenty of scope for under-declaring income) but I would make zero moral judgement on someone who decides they need the fruits of their labour more than the scum who demand it with menaces. Ironman May 10, 2014 at 6:48 pm Sorry Jim The scum demanding it with menaces are paying for our nation’s defence. Anybody who decides he needs it too much to hand over what is due under the law of that nation that stood up to German Nazis and Argentine Fascists is a common thief. As I say, avoidance and evasion are different animals. PF May 10, 2014 at 6:57 pm I too have a problem with the moral issue. We know governments piss money away. And yet we all, to some extent or other, want the benefits of what the collective can efficiently provide and where the individual alone cannot. What that entails comes down to politics, big versus small government etc. But I fail to see where “morality” impacts on that. The extent of tax generated and spent, and how and where, is simply a political decision, and from which (outside of a very small voluntary commune type system) there has to be a proper legal enforcement process to prevent our own alternative individual preferences from holding sway. Hence in the two example of the two traders above, I would forget any idea of “morality”, and simply call the one who doesn’t pay a tax evader? No different in principle, only in degree, to say a litter lout, speeding motorist, burglar, serial murderer, whatever? Ironman, just picking up on your “common thief”. Yep, that may be a “technically” good description? Emil May 10, 2014 at 7:10 pm The immoral position is taking our money under threath of violence and then pissing it away You would not need more than 10% of GDP in order to provide defence, courts, police etc Jim May 10, 2014 at 11:45 pm “The scum demanding it with menaces are paying for our nation’s defence. ” That would be the Forces that are consistently reduced in number and effectiveness so the scum in charge can spend even more of our tax revenue on paying benefits to layabouts and foreigners. The Forces that couldn’t retake the Falklands again because they’ve been so hollowed out. If thats the great moral defence of taxation, that it protects the nation, you need your head examining. Our Forces are no position to protect us from jack shit any more. Roue le Jour May 11, 2014 at 9:08 am @Ironman I’m not disputing the need for taxes, but Greece is in the shitter because the Greek government borrowed more than it could ever hope to repay. That had nothing whatsoever to do with Greece’s traditional low tax collection rate. Roue le Jour May 11, 2014 at 9:12 am @Ironman Regarding your two tradesmen, What if one is VAT registered and the other isn’t? Is it still cheating? Because that actually happens and is quite legal. Ironman May 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm Jim Again I’m sorry, but it just isn’t good enough to say “I don’t agree with the way this (democratically elected government) has chosen to spend it this year so I’m holding it back. Anybody thinking that should find “a black country” to bugger off to. Please note I grew up for a time on the Zambia- Zimbabwe border; I really really do know what I’m talking about here. This is a bloody good country and in this bloody good country our defence is paid for. If I think more should be spent on defence then I should be pleased to pay a bit more. But to say “not enough being spent, so I’ll withhold some of what I’m legally required to pay” that is getting it backward. Ironman May 11, 2014 at 12:58 pm Roue le Jour Or the blogger who claims his income isn’t for any services provided so doesn’t pay tax and doesn’t register for VAT? Yes, a common thief as well as a hypocrite. Roue le Jour May 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm Nicely ducked, Ironman. Are you by any chance in politics? Ironman May 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm Not a good idea, judging by the speed at which I’ve lost friends on this thread. Jim May 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm @Ironman: you are confusing the law with morality. Lots of things are legal, but not necessarily moral. The fact that taxation is legal (and indeed democratically voted for) does not make it moral. If people voted for a system that forcibly enslaved 10% of the country would it be moral? It would be legal, and democratically arrived at, so according to you it would be immoral to try and avoid it. PF May 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm Jim / Ironman, aren’t you both right? Morality is personal to each of us, we all have different values. If your own “morality” determines that we should spend more (or less) on defence or whatever (as you both seem to be saying?), then you are both right (in your own eyes) – but actually it doesn’t matter! This is why I get pissed off with useless politicians that talk about “paying one’s fair share” (of tax). There is no “fair” share (ie trying to introduce a moral element). Who determines fair? Me or my neighbour? We both have very different views. All that matters is the legal amount that is due. That’s it… Don’t like it? Throw ’em out, accept it, or emigrate.. Ironman May 11, 2014 at 7:17 pm I do agree with PF, in a democracy “fair” is what we as a demos have decided it is. All that matters to us as individuals is what is legal. Again I emphasise the distinction between avoidance and evasion. I should apologise to Tim for highjacking this thread a litttle, because I tend to agree with his fundamental premise; the Treasury is not the economy. On which subject a certain tax dodging blogger from Norfolk is dismissing the thesis as “fantasist” but – the same but as always – has utterly to even attempt to explain why. Well Richard, I that’s because you can’t! If you think you can, disprove me. I read your blog, I’m waiting. I also would like to see your reasoning for the claim that tax avoidance makes for an uneven playing field; I don’t think you can! Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. 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