Ritchie is a card, isn’t he?

HMRC survey:

Tax avoidance is working around the rules of the tax system in order to pay less tax than Parliament ever intended – so operating within the letter, but not the spirit of the law. Tax avoiders often enter complicated, artificial ‘schemes’ that have no real financial purpose, other than to avoid tax. You may have heard about high-profile users of these sorts of scheme in the news. Some of these schemes are sold to potential users by a promoter – that’s why we can say that they are ‘marketed’. This next set of questions focuses on this type of marketed tax avoidance by individuals rather than businesses.

So, stuff like Jimmy Carr then. And Ritchie says:

HMRC have published the results of a survey that they have undertaken on people’s attitudes towards tax avoidance this morning.

But Ritchie’s definition of tax avoidance is rather different from everyone else’s definition of marketed tax avoidance scheme, isn’t it? For example, I think I understood him correctly as saying that Amazon selling from warehouses is the tax avoidance of business rates.

41 thoughts on “Ritchie is a card, isn’t he?”

  1. And my use of “Gift Aid” is tax avoidance. It is even “marketed tax avoidance” because Charities send me forms to fill in to claim it.
    Maybe that is why Murphy repeatedly rejected all my suggestions that he should tithe and encourage his readers to do so – or maybe it is because he is selfish and hypocritical.

  2. I’ve just tried to post on RM’s site, but my firewall popped up “This site is insecure and has been blocked”.

  3. Its Friday so his view is this. By Monday it’ll be entirely the opposite. Or not. The Tax Oracle works in mysterious ways.

    However no-one may question the Word of the Tax Oracle at Downham Market, on pain of having to listen to the Joy of Tax read to them over and over for weeks on end………

  4. It’s a bit like the old betting tax, where you paid tax on the stake to avoid tax on the winnings.

    As a footnote, with the onset of online gambling, the government quickly took measures and abolished gambling tax, instead placing a tax on gambling companies directly, which was calculated at a rate that encouraged the companies to pay it rather than offshore it, and to allow them to compete with non-UK businesses.

    A lesson apparently not learnt.

  5. @Jim – can you imagine life at the ashram, hanging on the words of the Bhagwan Shree Ritchneesh, everyone bound to one purpose and suffused with inner peace and The Love Of Tax?

  6. People don’t use the disparaging term “card” any more. All part of the nostalgia for the Edwardian era, no doubt. Also overtones of Wodehouse and Greyfriars , perhaps appropriate in the latter case with Bunter Boris Johnson doing so well and Skinner Osborne getting away with it.

  7. Card was never disparaging – if anything it conveyed a certain grudging admiration for the object and is therefore wholly inappropriate for use in connection with Murphy.

  8. @ DBC Reed
    Billy Bunter was, inter alia, not very bright. There are many reasons to criticise Boris Johnson but *you* cannot complain of his lack of brains.

  9. The whole idea of the spirit of the law is nauseating. Who defines the “spirit”, Margaret Hodge the Dodge, or the guy who cleans out your gutters for a couple of twenties, or Lester Piggott, or Ken Dodd?

  10. ‘Tax avoidance is working around the rules of the tax system in order to pay less tax than Parliament ever intended – so operating within the letter, but not the spirit of the law.’

    What a maroon. You can’t be working ‘around’ and ‘within’ at the same time. This tax avoidance meme always comes down to:

    “You bastards are following the law!”

  11. @dearieme – I was thinking that Arnold Bennett’s character was the only example I knew where there were overtones of being rather fly as opposed to the generally accepted current meaning.

    Denry is, when all is said and done, a bit of a geezer avant l’heure.

  12. From a post on Murphy’s site. I’ve often thought that as long as you start by appearing to support Murphy you can then take the piss out of him as much as you like…..

    “You’re being unfair on Richard. He has so much reading to do I expect he often reads what he would like to be there rather than what is there which when responded to script including typos can often lead to situations where what Richard writes turns out later to mean something completely different to first impressions.”

  13. What underlies the opposition to tax avoidance is what upsets me — the belief that somehow, the government is rightly “owed” the maximum amount of tax revenue they can levy, and by legally avoiding paying that maximum, one is “cheating” the government of its due.

    Every time I read that twaddle, I want to smash the writer or speaker in the face with a cricket bat.

  14. “Tax avoidance is working around the rules of the tax system in order to pay less tax than Parliament ever intended – so operating within the letter, but not the spirit of the law.”

    Where does receiving income in tax-free grants from ‘charities’ in return for political activism fit into this, I wonder?

  15. Tax avoidance, mmm.

    Is there some equivalent phrase to describe a government which spends more than Parliament ever intended?

  16. “Is there some equivalent phrase to describe a government which spends more than Parliament ever intended?”

    “Any government”?

  17. Partridge, a recognised authority on Slang,(the concept of recognised third-party authorities being unknown on this blog) gives “a character” “odd fellow” for Card in his dictionary.
    This is calculatedly disparaging of Murphy by suggesting a) he is not entirely serious, when he is at great pains to appear ever so serious; b) a chancer, not averse to sharp practice verging on the criminal (which is what you would assume if somebody in a pub were described as “a local chararacter”).
    I have read the Arnold Bennett: this shows a chancer advancing in society by some very dodgy behaviour, including making money out of a shipwreck by turning it into a tourist attraction, if memory serves.
    BTW Bennett does not appear on the canon of acceptable literary writers : his work in not considered literature. A pity perhaps because, he pretty well defines the Card and so all the current Conservative politicians who get away with so much by being a bit of a joke and laughing at everything.
    In which connexion I would have to amend my comments about Greyfriars : reading of the Orwell essay shows that it was not Skinner who was always trembling on the verge of expulsion but Racke ,Crooke and Loder, names which, perhaps, better befit “George” Osborne.
    @ J77 Still in awe of the intelligence of Conservative politicians!
    A former Tory classicist Enoch Powell proved himself intellectually by being one the youngest professors of Greek and then mastering military intelligence before becoming a brilliant expert on tax, defending Schedule A on property against Tory vandals, all the while plotting against American economic hegemony.
    Bunter Boris is not in the same league. I say you fellows, give the chap a chance!

  18. “Tax avoidance is working around the rules of the tax system in order to pay less tax than Parliament ever intended – so operating within the letter, but not the spirit of the law.”

    Thing is, the Phillip Green example is oft quoted as tax avoidance on an evil and grand scale but here’s the law. Spouses can pass assets between themselves on a tax free basis. So what must Parliament have intended? I think it might have been that no tax is payable when spouses transfer assets between themselves. And if you don’t live in the UK you don’t have any UK tax liability on a dividend paid by a UK company. That’s more law. So I think parliament intended that if you don’t live in the UK you won’t pay tax on a dividend paid by a UK company.

    There’s no nuance to these laws. No sneaky interpretation needed.

    So when Mr Green transferred all his shares to Mrs Green who happens to live in Monaco dividends paid were UK tax free.

    That’s good tax avoidance in my book and how the fuck could anyone argue that the law makers could not have envisaged such an event?

    And I’d love to see a survey of how many people in a similar position would not have done the same. I’d love to roll the results of that survey up and shove it up Murphy’s fat arse.

  19. ” a chancer advancing in society by some very dodgy behaviour, including making money out of a shipwreck by turning it into a tourist attraction”

    Beautifully description of Murphy’s role as economic adviser to the leadership of the Labour Party.

  20. Tax avoidance is – discuss. Unfortunately a term maligned and misapplied by the lefties. It is no more and no less than arranging your affairs to minimise the amount of tax you pay, taking advantage of the contradictions and complexities of ours and others tax codes. In practice, avoidance is practised by the rich, and evasion by everyone else!

  21. “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.” – Judge Learned Hand

  22. I’m looking for some Richard Murphy memes to counter some of the bullshit based on his ‘work’ being peddled on social media. Don’t suppose any of you can point me in the right direction, can you?

  23. “Is there some equivalent phrase to describe a government which spends more than Parliament ever intended?”

    Yes… it’s “government”.

  24. John77

    @ DBC Reed – I am not in awe of Boris Johnson’s intelligence. My point was that *you* should be.

    And which is exactly how the rest of us read it..:)

    And my use of “Gift Aid” is tax avoidance.

    Way O/T – but which could be tax “evasion” under the new regime, for those taking low salaries versus dividends out of their own companies, because dividends will no longer (2016/17) have a tax credit associated with them.

    Hence, at say £8K salary (rest taken as divs), there is no income tax paid. Ticking “Gift Aid”, as I understand it, would technically therefore be tax evasion unless it was later declared on SA.

    So, how does the Boy George compare with his Scottish predecessor…

  25. Gift Aid – obviously the new dividend tax, if heading upwards, could change that (ie tax is in fact paid once over the full personal allowances), but it’s still a subtle shift (or additional tax complication as George is increasingly prone to)…

  26. @ PF
    I have to declare the amount of Gift Aid donations on my tax return and if I haven’t already paid enough tax to “frank” them, then HMRC will bill me for the shortfall. So no chance of evasion unless you are on PAYE without the need to make a self-assessment return and are giving away so much that you don’t have enough left from your wages to live on.

  27. John77

    I completely agree, except – how many people doing their SA tax return think that hard about filling out item 5 of page 4 precisely (unless they donate material sums this way)? It could even be small individual amounts (friend says will you sponsor me, and obviously “just tick the box”, which of course you will remember “perfectly” come SA many eons later?!).

    Or perhaps they just assume that it’s not an issue, because it never was previously, but which may no longer be the case for 2016/17 given the change taking place?

    And that’s the issue. I’m actually not disagreeing with your point above technically. But it is another complication, not previously of importance, but which technically now could be evasion without those who are knowledgeable even realising …

  28. @Gamecock – this quote predates Learned Hands by a couple of years. I often wonder if he’d seem it.

    “No man in this country is under the least obligation, moral or otherwise, so as to arrange his legal relations to his business or to his property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel into his store”

    (Lord Clyde in Ayrshire Pullman Motor Services & Ritchie v CIR, 1929, 14 TC 754).

  29. Rees-Mogg threw that at RM in the recent TSC hearing. RM said it was outdated and disallowed via the GAAR guidance.
    R-M said guidance not the law: RM said it was.
    Never been a GAAR case so no idea what the Courts will say about guidance.

  30. John, obviously RM’s opinion is worthless. Unless the GAAR had something that forbade courts to disregard precedents in this area, it is an avenue for tax barristers to coin it, which is usually the case when new and unnecessary laws are promulgated.

  31. @ PF
    I keep a spreadsheet for all my tax stuff because there’s isn’t a snowflake’s chance in Gehenna that I’ld remember it all. But for normal people you’re quite right.

  32. No. the GAAR guidance does explicitly say that’s no longer an appropriate principle, and the GAAR legislation says that courts have to take the GAAR guidance into account.

    So it’s not strictly legislation, but it is perfectly possible to argue that this particular principle is no longer a valid principle.

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