Which was predictable, of course, and, really, it always has been.
This high profile UK Member of Parliament or overpaid football star has avoided paying taxes on a huge income by squirrelling it away overseas somewhere.
That one has done it by calling his money something else – Ethel, perhaps, or William Wildebeest. I don’t know.
Others do it other ways, but the law supposedly only gets interested if the perpetrator pretends that the money isn’t theirs, or so I thought. Because apparently you can invent a non-existent company and stuff the money into that, register it on an island somewhere in the Caribbean or on a small planet not far from Jupiter, and then legally avoid paying any tax on it.
Society demands, quite rightly, that if we are to live in that society, there are certain rules that we abide by. One of these rules, generally, is that we pay our taxes.
Taxes go to pay for, amongst other things, our hospitals and our emergency services. Those that seek to ‘avoid’, i.e. evade, paying their taxes, presumably still wish to live under the rule of law, and would want to be treated in a hospital should it prove necessary, and if their house caught fire, would presumably like to have the fire put out as soon as possible.
The root of the anger and hostility is, quite simply, fairness. When the average member of society sees that a number of extremely rich individuals can legally flout the law by manipulating where their money is and what they call it, whilst those who are blessed with only a tiny proportion of their wealth have no choice but to pay their share, then there will naturally be resentment.
The fact that the law allows it will do absolutely nothing to curb this anger.
Of course, different countries have different tax laws, some of which are set up to encourage foreign investment.
Which then seems to be a small step from foreign-capital-sitting-quietly-in-an-account-‘earning’-interest–not-paying-taxes-and-not-attracting-attention-from-its-country-of-origin.
That something is legal obviously does not necessarily prevent it from being morally repugnant.
And I am sick of hearing the argument that if we do not bend over backwards to favour and reward the rich then somehow our country will lose out.
Presumably they will take their money elsewhere if we don’t – oh, they have done already, did you say? Never mind. Give them some more.
The laws on income tax, specifically, have been formulated and changed and added to and changed again over a couple of hundred years, so it should be no surprise that what we have today is a hotchpotch of laws and loopholes. Perhaps if they could be scrapped and then a new, simplified, set drafted, we might be able to get to grips with this in a proper way.
Because it is no longer acceptable for the law to continue to function in this manner.
It needs to be fair; it needs to be morally right, as well as legally right.
And…keep it polite, please, folks!