The importance of the difference between the letter of the tax law and the spirit

So, we all know of someone who insists that we should not look to the letter of the tax law. Oh no, and I say this candidly, we should just hand over whatever it is that the spirit of the law, as defined by myself, demands.

Hmm:

The taxman could be forced to pay up to £43 billion in refunds if it loses its current legal battles against big businesses.
Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has revealed the worst-case-scenario figure if it loses its disputes with companies which believe they have paid too much tax.

That’s a fair old difference between what HMRC is currently insisting should be charged and what the courts might decide should actually be charged.

According to HMRC accounts, £7.2billion of the £42.8billion potential bill is more likely to be paid out than not. Known as ‘provisions’, this bill rose by a third over the past year.
The remaining £35.6billion in the estimates are ‘contingent liabilities’ where a refund is possible rather than likely. This amount rose by a fifth over the past year.

Even HMRC think they have probably overcharged by $7 billion and change.

Which brings us, of course, to that possible conflict between that letter and spirit. For we’ve got a system which decides such conflicts. It’s called the court system. Thus we don’t in fact need the LHTD to tell us all what to do, we’ve a group of knowledgeable and experienced people who are actually trained to do this instead.

9 thoughts on “The importance of the difference between the letter of the tax law and the spirit”

  1. Letter of the law.

    Murphy is a member in an LLP. This means he can get a grant from Friends’ Provident Foundation (which doesn’t give grants to sole traders)

    Spirit of the law.

    The only other member of the LLP is his wife, who does nothing of note, has no tax or economics background and is allocated just 1% of profits.

    As Murphy might say, this is not illegal but is it moral?

  2. Richard Murphy says: “yes yes yes but such neoliberal sophistry conceals the reality, which is that the desperately underfunded HMRC is unable to defend itself against the predation of the corporate behemoths, and so all that lovely moolah which belongs to the government (because I said so, that’s why) will be taken out and hidden in tax havens where it will be spent on inflated CEO salaries and kept out of the mouths of the working poor and did I mention I’m a Quaker and and and…” (cont. p.96)

  3. The only other member of the LLP is his wife, who does nothing of note, has no tax or economics background

    To be fair, that does put Murph and his wife on fairly equal footing.

  4. LHTD = Lord High Tax Denouncer

    But I can’t remember; was it one of Tim’s originally, or was it coined in one of the comments and stuck?

  5. Bloke not in Cymru

    Given his new non political (wouldn’t want to upset the grants) role advising political parties maybe
    Left Hand To Darkness

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