We had packed schedule of fantastic contributions ranging from NGOs to FTSE 100 companies. With so many headline acts, it was no wonder Paul Monaghan of Fair Tax kicked off proceedings by dubbing the day ‘the Glastonbury of tax’ – we even had a true tax rock-star on stage, Margaret Hodge, MP.

Rock star…..

The veteran tax campaigner delivered a barnstorming speech about her time as the head of the Public Accounts Committee, recounting the way in which she took on giants such as Amazon, Google and Starbucks and forced them to reveal how they avoided paying billions in corporation tax.

All of them were shown to be paying exactly what the law demanded of them. So not sure what was being avoided.

71 thoughts on “Umm, yeah”

  1. The Glastonbury of tax? You mean its a collection of pretentious middle class types in a field wallowing in their own filth for a weekend?

  2. I am restating my insistence that there is no such thing as tax avoidance. There are attempts at it, certainly, will all collapse down to either obeying tax law (tax compliance) or not obeying tax law (tax evasion).

  3. “I am restating my insistence that there is no such thing as tax avoidance. There are attempts at it, certainly, will all collapse down to either obeying tax law (tax compliance) or not obeying tax law (tax evasion).”

    Neoliberal sophistry.

    The full definition of tax avoidance is “engaging in entirely legal and sensible tax planning while being insufficiently left-wing”.

    Hence why La Hodge is just engaging in entirely legal and sensible tax planning while Starbucks is engaging in tax avoidance.

  4. Any such so-called Tax Avoidance can only be against an imaginary standard in someone’s head.

    Which is fine … But don’t call it something it isn’t.

    That’s why all Margaret Hodge has ever been able to do in her committee is publicity stunts and shouting.

    Vogon Security Guard at heart?

  5. I was intrigued to see that Ms Hodge nominated Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership, and seems to be mentioned in relation to that as a ‘right wing’ Labour MP.

    Is it really true that she’s on the right of the party? Is there any hope?

  6. How very lefty.

    “Whatever I say are the facts at this time. Reality is an irrelevant right wing conspiracy.”

    Bit like cheering Canute’s wet feet…

  7. Tim

    Tax avoidance is legal. You claim tax avoidance will “collapse down to obeying tax law” – how does that differ from original claim it is legal? You’re not adding or changing anything.

    *obviously* the notion of tax avoidance means classifying some instances of “obeying tax law” as one thing (avoidance) and other instances as another (compliance). And obviously there is no precise definition, something that has been discussed endlessly, see for example here http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/dp7.pdf

    The OECD call it “corporate tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and loopholes of the current system to artificially shift profits to locations where they are subject to more favourable tax treatment.” as evident in US corporations now booking 20 per cent of their profits in tax havens. Another way of getting at the idea of avoidance is a tax planning strategies that exploit “deeply unsatisfactory aspects of the current tax system”  and which call for legislative changes.

    I know you enjoy shooting fish in the barrel that is the lunatic wing of the tax world (aka RM) but going to the other extreme and denying there is any substance to tax avoidance you just make yourself look like the opposing lunatic wing.

  8. @Luis,

    I think the point tim is trying to make is that objectively there’s no such thing as “avoidance”, since the term is entirely subjective according to what the accuser likes or dislikes about the tax system.

  9. Did she give an account of her time as head of Islington Council as an encore, pointining out the many occasions where she ‘fearlessly facilitated child abuse’ enabling sexual predators to abuse society’s most vulnerable – no? I thought not…..

  10. Tim W,

    “I am restating my insistence that there is no such thing as tax avoidance.”

    I think it exists if you classify a deliberate action to reduce your taxation. But that includes everything from filling up the car on budget day through to sticking your kids shares in a trust fund. Everyone loves to avoid tax. They just don’t like people avoiding taxes in ways that they can’t take advantage of.

  11. ‘the Glastonbury of tax’

    Did we ever get definitive numbers on the attendance at the FTM conference?

    I know estimating numbers can sometimes be difficult (cf recent austerity march in Trafalgar Square) but Glastonbury is expecting 175,000 ticket holders.

    Perhaps a helicopter shot of the FTM conference crowd is available so we can take a guess?

  12. “I think it exists if you classify a deliberate action to reduce your taxation. But that includes everything from filling up the car on budget day through to sticking your kids shares in a trust fund. Everyone loves to avoid tax. They just don’t like people avoiding taxes in ways that they can’t take advantage of.”

    Or buying cakes instead of biscuits.

    Or a petite lady shopping in the kids’ clothes section.

    Or deciding not to work that extra overtime.

    If we are to take it to its most ridiculous.

  13. “They just don’t like people avoiding taxes in ways that they can’t take advantage of.”

    This, dressed up in the nauseating rags of sanctimonious criticism.

    I tax plan effectively.
    He avoids.
    American neo-liberal megacorps evade taxes,
    Etc

  14. “They sent a clear message that doing the right thing with tax not only pays for the vital services a business needs to flourish but plays well with customers, employees and the wider community.”

    Well, they’re f**king idiots then. Especially Bytemark who sell to other businesses rather than the sort of mouthbreathing idiots that I saw on Question Time last night.

    I avoid tax because I know that government is like inert gas that expands to fill the space. If the tax take fell to 20% we’d still have the bins emptied and kids educated to 18 (and enough graduates). When it’s closer to 50%, you’ll have your money going on HS2 and Ethiopian game shows.

  15. @Stigler,

    How many (potential) customers will think good of a company for not tax planning efficiently, vs. how many will think they’re stupid twonks?

  16. rhyds – 🙂

    “The Glastonbury of tax” is hilarious, brimging to mind Alan Partridge’s “the Ferrari of the coal-effect gas fireplace industry”.

    Some other nuggets in there include:

    As Brendan Rennet [finance Director of SSE] said, a business paying its fair share is a question of first principles “its about our legitimacy in the society that allows us to exist…”.

    Very fascist of SSE.

    Toby Quantrill of Christian Aid, who evoked the parallels between Fair Tax and Fair Trade

    It’s a load of bollocks dreamed up by dreary Churchians who no longer believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, but who do believe in the sacredness of big government and progressive causes?

  17. Thing is, if a company (for whatever reason) decided to follow the guidelines set out on the Fair Tax Mark website, what’s to stop it announcing that “We at XYZ Ltd believe in paying a fair amount of tax and so we follow the guidelines set out by the Fair Tax Mark and have signed the Fair Tax pledge” WITHOUT paying any money to Murphy?

    Would the public know the difference?

    Murphy clearly saw the FTM as a source of future income. Gives me great pleasure to see it going tits up.

  18. “It’s a load of bollocks dreamed up by dreary Churchians who no longer believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, but who do believe in the sacredness of big government and progressive causes?”

    I guess it must be in one of the Gnostic gospels that must appear in their special bibles that Jesus exhorts Caesar to feed the poor, Christians to love their neighbour vicariously through Caesar, and to covet their neighbour’s ox and demand it be taxed. The same Gospel in which the Pharisees were the smug example to be emulated.

  19. I am restating my insistence that there is no such thing as tax avoidance. There are attempts at it, certainly, will all collapse down to either obeying tax law (tax compliance) or not obeying tax law (tax evasion).

    But why?

    It looks as if you are accepting Murphy’s terms of reference – eg, his definitions for planning, compliance, avoidance, evasion etc – and then trying to knock that down by eliminating his “avoidance” category.

    What’s the point. He’s an idiot – why accept his nonsense as a start point?

  20. Tax avoidance is essentially the stuff that most people/businessmen would never bother with, but which those with sufficient economies of scale to make it worth the costs will bother with.

  21. @Steve, I know I posted this before, but I like it.

    Luke 18:10-14 updated for our times:


    10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Guardianista, and the other a white van man.

    11 The Guardianista stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, tax avoiders, insufficiently socially-just, sexists, or even as this white van man.

    12 I eat vegetarian twice in the week, I gladly pay my taxes. I read the Grauniad. I vote Labour.

    13 And the white van man, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a #WorkingClassTory.

    14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

  22. I think Tim’s point is that, since “avoidance” is legal, it is, by definition, paying the correct amount of tax — in which case, what exactly is being avoided?

  23. S2

    Ah… it’s dislike of the actual word “avoided”, despite the courts using that word specifically to signify that something is legal (versus “evaded”).

    I understand that, as both words sound provocative; and which the left dishonestly take advantage of.

  24. I am generally sympathetic to the idea that one is either tax compliant or tax evading.

    After all are there other areas of the law with such distinctions?

    If I’m doing 30 mph in a 30 mph zone am I obeying the law or am I speeding-fine avoiding?

  25. When I open an ISA I think of it as avoiding the kerfuffle of reporting dividends on my tax return. When I contribute to a pension I think of it as tax deferral. Tax avoidance would be things like a Deed of Variation (Miliband, Benn), or setting up the right sort of family trust (too many socialists to mention), or buying a Premium Bond from ns&i.

  26. AndyC

    “Avoidance” was the recognised terminology in the UK for legally reducing one’s tax bill. Hence, I’m perhaps not sure that “speeding – fine avoiding” is a good analogy in that context?

    Tim/S2

    I do understand that, if the intention is simply to remove the word “avoid” from the discussion, tax compliance does then mean exactly the same.

    But let’s not pretend that will stop idiot lefties from making crap up.

  27. I think the more appropriate driving analogy is with dangerous driving.

    If you’re doing 30 mph in a 30 zone then you’re not speeding, but if it’s down a crowded side street with lots of parked cars then you’re going too fast.

    Speeding = a clear breach of the law = tax evasion
    Dangerous driving = not doing what you ought to = tax avoidance.

    Well, “Dangerous driving” probably equates more to “Abusive avoidance” now we have the GAAR, being something which is specifically illegal but not clearly defined; but you get the point.

  28. Luis Enrique said:

    Tax avoidance is legal.

    Thanks to a myriad of self appointed Taxfinder Generals making a lot of fuss about things this is no longer true, if it ever really was.

    There is avoidance that is outside the scope of the General Anti-Abuse Rules. There is avoidance that is within the scope of GAAR. And there is evasion.

    The GAAR applies to avoidance that has been deemed to be aggressive or abusive. What it smells like to me is that the Revenue are keen to extract money from tax evaders with the implied inducement that they won’t get a criminal record if they admit to abusive avoidance. Handily for the Revenue it also means they don’t set too many precedents in court so things remain comfortably muddy. Handily for the government and parliament it is a backstop against their incompetent legislating.

  29. Pellinor

    Managing one’s tax affairs so as not to pay more than is legally required = dangerous driving?

    You’re exaggerating? Aren’t you accepting Murphy’s premise that avoidance is wrong?

    And, in any case, as you allude to, dangerous driving is against the law.

  30. I can’t see why it is necessary to deny the existence of tax avoidance.

    Incentives matter. If the tax system provides incentives for someone to change their behaviour (even if in a basically superficial or legally formalistic way rather than in a material or substantive one, such as changing what company they do their business through) in order to to reduce their tax burden, why not admit that they have avoided taxes? Avoided paying legally unnecessary taxes, yes, but avoidance nonetheless.

    I think I would target “compliance” instead. The problem with the “compliance versus avoidance versus evasion” trichotomy is that it lumps legal avoiders with illegal evaders outside the magic, checkbox-ticked “compliance” category, when the word “compliance” seems to be being used in a very subjective way (conforming with an ill defined “spirit of the law”, as defined by the speaker).

    I think a stronger line of attack is that there is evasion and compliance, without middle ground, and based on objective (ish) law not subjective and partisan opinion. That still makes your basic point, but avoidance hasn’t completely disappeared. It’s just classified as a (large, but with uncertain boundaries) subset of “compliance”.

  31. PF: driving in a way that I object to is “dangerous driving”. When Mum is in the back seat, going at anything over 20mph or taking a corner at any speed over a crawl elicits comments of “don’t you drive fast!” and so on.

    Managing your tax affairs in a way that I object to is “tax avoidance”. When Richard Murphy is back-seat driving, using the SSE, or a DTA, or the Patent Box, or being non-UK resident, elicits comments of “HMRC have let X Plc get away with it again!” and so on.

  32. Pellinor

    I understand! I had thought you were supporting (above) the dangerous driving analogy, rather than commenting / explaining…

  33. abacab,

    “How many (potential) customers will think good of a company for not tax planning efficiently, vs. how many will think they’re stupid twonks?”

    It depends on your customers. This really makes sense for a company like Lush, which is bought by middle-class hippy girls. But small businessmen buying hosting tend to not care too much. I don’t even mind if someone willingly pays more tax, but if it’s going to raise prices, well, the next guy looks cheaper.

    Personally, I can’t imagine why anyone would willingly pay more tax. I’ve worked for government a few times, and I’ve seen how badly the money gets spent.

  34. An interesting case of tax avoidance is the “political exemption” rule. Looking across Europe we see any number of “allowances” and tax privileges for the political class. If I’m up to date ex pols getting a pension from the EU do not pay any tax in their country of residence (but they do pay a small tax to the EU)-in fact they are exempt from even declaring this income.

  35. @dee “Looking across Europe we see any number of “allowances” and tax privileges for the political class.”

    What’s the deadline for filing a UK paper Self Assessment tax return? 31 October following the end of the tax year?

    Yes.

    Unless you are an MP, when the deadline is 31 January following the end of the tax year.

    Why? Well, MPs tax returns are sometime complicated and filing over the internet is a bit of a security risk. So the paper tax return filing deadline is extended. Apparently.

    Factors which do not, it would seem, apply to the rest of us.

  36. Today’s Alex cartoon seems somewhat appropriate:

    Jeez, is Alex still going? Used to love that cartoon a decade ago, and it had been running for at least a decade or more then. Great stuff.

  37. @Tim Newman

    Alex says something.

    You think it means something.

    It turns out to mean the opposite.

    There, no need to read any future Alex cartoon or feel you have to catch up on any you’ve missed.

  38. (With acknowledgement to George Lucas) ‘This is the Tim Worstall blog, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy, we must be cautious’

    I am afraid you all have it wrong – all tax belongs to the state – any attempt to minimise one’s tax is an attack on state legitimacy and indeed on civil society itself – anyone thinking otherwise is self-evidently a NeoLiberal or enemy of civil society.

    Those arguing otherwise are either misguided or more likely time – wasting or trolling. Either way, their position is outside the mainstream of British politics and as such they deserve neither a voice nor an ability to respond.

    You have all been warned. I now refer you to Section 1 of the comments policy and future contributions will be deleted.

  39. You know Murphy’s irony proof when he brings in a paragon of virtue like Maggie Hodge. I give American readers a bit of background on Hodge’s virtue, Stemcor and the LDF over at my site.

    As to Tim’s take on ‘tax avoidance’, I’m to the point where I basically agree with him. It was, at one time, a meaningful term within the accounting profession. What has happened is that the term has been (mis)appropriated by non-professionals (Murphy being as non-professional as the come) and then used outside the appropriate context. Anymore it is best just to refuse to use the term in public under any circumstance.

  40. I concur with Rob above. The middle class Lefty dislike of tax avoidance is purely down to the fact that as middle class professionals, by and large on PAYE from large organisations, they have few opportunities to indulge in any tax avoidance. The lower classes don’t give a stuff, because they evade taxes like billy-o, working for cash in hand etc all the time. Because the working classes have more saleable skills, they can work for cash, and have an intimate knowledge of the value of an ‘on the books’ job vs a cash one. The middle classes have little saleable skills, and thus can’t make any money on the side. They daren’t turn their ire on the lower classes for being tax evaders, so they instead express their discontent on ‘the rich’ and corporations for ‘avoiding taxes’.

  41. “The OECD call it “corporate tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and loopholes of the current system to artificially shift profits to locations where they are subject to more favourable tax treatment.” as evident in US corporations now booking 20 per cent of their profits in tax havens. Another way of getting at the idea of avoidance is a tax planning strategies that exploit “deeply unsatisfactory aspects of the current tax system” and which call for legislative changes.”

    Luis –

    The OECD statement is meaningless. If the exploitation of gaps and loopholes is legal, the entity is tax compliant when doing so. If it isn’t, it’s tax evasion. OECD is (mis)using the term within the context of public policy, it is not using it within the context of tax planning.

    Note that the statement “deeply unsatisfactory aspects of the current tax system” is the expression of an opinion, not fact. It is not the job of the tax planner or preparer to plan or prepare on the basis of what tax law should be, but rather what the tax law actually is. The job of curing those “deeply unsatisfactory aspects” lies elsewhere.

  42. Dennis you may notice I have already noted the legal status of tax avoidance, and you may also realise that differentiating between different sorts of legal behaviour requires doing so on a basis other than their legality. Of course ‘deeply unsatisfactory’ is an opinion and of course the solutions “lie elsewhere” you *quoted me* saying that solutions are legislative. Do try to keep up.

  43. luis enrique

    It is one thing to say that a current law is imprecise and needs to be changed in order to improve efficiency, equality, whatever. It is a different thing to blame companies for the laws being stupid / full of holes. Companies don’t make laws, politicians do

  44. Emil,

    there is more to it than that – companies also employ lawyers or consultants to spot loopholes etc. in laws and exploit them.

    I do not see anything wrong with campaigners drawing attention to that behaviour and urging them to stop it.

  45. Luis

    “there is more to it than that – companies also employ lawyers or consultants to spot loopholes etc. in laws and exploit them.”

    Or more blatantly still, hire lobbyists to get laws changed in a way that benefits them. GE have got an industrially sized operation doing this. I suppose it can’t be “avoidance” in the sense of exploiting a loophole against the spirit of the law – but instead the law has been specifically changed for the purpose of reducing the tax burden on the company, which still seems like a tax avoided to me.

  46. Still, this is a second order effect. The first order effect is that politicians screwed (by making stupid laws, by letting lobbyists (wrongly) influence them, etc). So it’s a bit rich for politicians to blame companies for politicians being stupid

  47. Luis

    I agree – nothing wrong with campaigners drawing attention to it – it’s when they band together and proclaim to speak ‘for civil society’ and respond to the question ‘and who elected you exactly?’ by banning you from a blog or believing that use of the word ‘troll’ precludes the need for reasoned argument, as well as calling for wholesale changes in the law despite losing an election – that’s when it becomes an issue I think.

  48. Did any grown up, serious tax professionals attend Ritchie’s little jamboree or was it just his mates?

  49. “GlenDorran

    Did any grown up, serious tax professionals attend Ritchie’s little jamboree or was it just his mates?”

    Over on the Murphaloon website, Sue has been trying to find out exactly how many people attended. Murphy claims 100 but was it even that? and if you remove the FTM organisers, those already signed up and journalists, how many people were there to make this the ecstatic jamboree Murphy is claiming it was?

  50. To a business, taxes are just another cost. Failure to minimise that cost can easily be seen as management negligence.

    Amazon has an unusual and very clear business model, which is to drive growth through, a) cutting costs, and, b) passing that saving on to the consumer. The one limit on cost-cutting is that service, and theirs is excellent, has to be maintained. (I don’t work for Amazon but have been involved).

    Amazon set around 650 targets for a recent year, I forget which exactly, and not one related to profit.

    You can make an argument that Amazon’s success is a problem in itself, or that the EU needs to rethink its tax policy. What you can’t do, realistically, is blame Amazon. For one thing, Amazon don’t make our tax laws.

    When it suits, Murphy is very quick to say that complying with the law, that is the expressed will of Parliament, cannot be avoidance. This shouldn’t just apply to the Guardian and small partnerships in Norfolk.

  51. “Dennis you may notice I have already noted the legal status of tax avoidance, and you may also realise that differentiating between different sorts of legal behaviour requires doing so on a basis other than their legality.”

    Which is why, for those educated and trained to provide tax planning and preparation services, as well as the taxpayers who engage those professionals, differentiating tax-related behaviors on a basis other than legality is not engaged in. It is completely pointless. A taxpayer’s decision on whether to engage in certain tax legal tax reduction strategies is a function of a number of factors, including client goals, risk tolerance, administrative cost of the strategies, potential savings, etc.

    That’s the Real World, and if you’re serious about actually combating tax evasion and encouraging tax compliance in the Real World, you start with the way taxpayers and their tax professional interact with the law. Then you figure out the public policy implications of it all and go from there.

    Running around trying to shame large multinational corporations, or get them to sign vague promises of higher virtue, or noodling about on a computer drawing fine distinctions between “good” tax avoidance and “bad” tax avoidance has between little to no relevance in the Real World. It approaches, as Wittgenstein once said, “MEANING ZERO”. And that’s what makes guys like Richard Murphy wankers.

    You may resume your wanking now, Luis.

  52. Dennis one of the articles I have linked to above is written by the KPMG Professor of Taxation Law at Oxford University and the other by The Tax Law Review Committee, why don’t you try your “in the real world” schtick on with them.

  53. On the theme of tax being just another cost:

    “Or more blatantly still, hire lobbyists to get laws changed in a way that benefits them.”

    Can equal:

    “Or more blatantly still, hire procurement professionals to get rates changed in a way that benefits them.”

    Of course, I get invited on corporate jollies due to my sunny personality and good humour. But I can’t help but notice that invitees in general tend to be buyers and other decision makers.

    Fishy.

  54. Bloke in Costa Rica

    One salutary effect of saying tax avoidance is a semantically-null term is that it makes people like Murphy go all stampy-foot. Of course I’m not including Luis Enrique in that group, heaven forfend; he’s not a nutter. It would best be deployed as a throwaway, any-fule-kno aside.

  55. Luis:
    It seems that Professor Freedman has asked ‘the real world’ about her proposals, and doesn’t like its answer:
    Almost all of them disagree with her on some aspect or another and frequently reject her entire thesis, but she hopes that the discussions have sharpened her arguments, which represent her personal views only. (my emphasis)
    Not that it keeps her from making the argument, of course.

  56. “Dennis one of the articles I have linked to above is written by the KPMG Professor of Taxation Law at Oxford University and the other by The Tax Law Review Committee, why don’t you try your “in the real world” schtick on with them.”

    Oh, you got me there, because as we all know, the one thing all academics have is boatloads of practical, real world experience. Like Barack Obama. Or Elizabeth Warren. Lots of credentials, lots of good, sound real world solutions.

    Question: Have you examined the c.v. of either of your tax profs to see what sort experience they happen to have outside of academia?

    Let me answer that for you: No, you haven’t.

    So what it comes down to is you happen to share an opinion with them, so their opinion is unassailable not because it is actually correct, but because they possess credentials.

    There’s an old truism out there that goes something like this, Luis:

    When your opponent lacks the ability to argue the facts, he will, at some point, resort to wrapping himself in someone else’s credentials to draw attention away from that lack of ability.

  57. Time for Lord Clyde (1929)

    “No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer’s pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue”.

  58. GAAR guidance says

    B2.3 The last quote from the judgment of Lord Clyde in the Ayrshire Pullman case epitomises the approach which Parliament has rejected in enacting the GAAR legislation. Taxation is not to be treated as a game where taxpayers can indulge in any ingenious scheme in order to eliminate or reduce their tax liability”
    B2.4 Accordingly, it is essential to appreciate that, so far as the operation of the GAAR is concerned, Parliament has decisively rejected this approach, and has imposed an overriding statutory limit on the extent to which taxpayers can go in trying to reduce their tax bill. That limit is reached when the arrangements put in place by the taxpayer to achieve that purpose go beyond anything which could reasonably be regarded as a reasonable course of action. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tax-avoidance-general-anti-abuse-rules

  59. John –

    Prof. Freedman’s profile mentions working in the corporate tax department of Freshfields until 1980. Her LinkedIn profile is silent about her time at Freshfields, but mentions she graduated from Oxford in 1975. So at most she put in five years at Freshfields, which is not, by the way, an accounting firm. Freshfields is a multinational law firm.

    I’ll bet dollars to donuts that she never prepared a tax return in those five years other than her own personal return. Elite law firms like Freshfields usually don’t prepare tax returns for their clients. What they tend to do in corporate tax is tax planning, tax compliance, or tax litigation.

    Chances are what she was doing was either developing corporate tax planning, reviewing corporate tax planning to ensure tax compliance, or working on existing client litigation with various taxing authorities.

    Real World? Yes, but only to an extent. And a very limited extent at that.

  60. Could be the case. But is probably still more than zero.
    And clearly the committee had members who are clearly practitioners with real world experience.
    That doesn’t mean they were right but I think it means it’s not valid to criticise their work on the basis of no or very limited real world experience.

  61. @dearie me

    I often wonder if the improbably named American judge Learned Hand had read the Lord Clyde quote when in 1935 he said this;

    “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.”

  62. And Ritchie is still whining on Twitter about not being invited to tax conferences at Oxford! Let’s hope their ban continues.

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