Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Morality anybody?

A government minister tells us about morality.  (I almost stopped there, but...)  Apparently, using legal tender to pay a debt is wrong, because it might cost HMRC money.  Apart from the dubious logic, and the frankly offensive implication that by paying my plumber cash I am morally tainted (not to mention Mr Gauke’s apparent confusion between legality and morality) here’s a bit of perspective.  A couple of numbers:

A: £6,300,000,000,000.

B: 92,000.

A is an amount of money (by no means all of it) being hidden away in so-called tax havens.  That’s six point three trillion pounds.

B is the number of individuals hiding that money.  That’s ninety two thousand people.

Divide A by B and you get £68,478,260.  Each.

Be aware that they are hiding this money for a single purpose – evading tax.  Before anyone starts bleating about the nice distinction between ‘evasion’ and ‘avoidance’, let me make my position clear - it’s all evasion.  The rules say that tax evasion equates to breaking the law, whereas tax avoidance consists of exploiting unintended loopholes in order to pay as little as possible while not actually breaking the law.  As far as I’m concerned, there’s no difference.

There’s a huge industry devoted to finding and exploiting these loopholes.  Here’s where morality really kicks in.  If the people in that industry were genuinely moral beings (complete humans, as I’m starting to think of them), then when they discovered a loophole, their first thought wouldn’t be ‘how can I exploit this?’ but ‘how can I help to close it?’  Wouldn’t it?

Governments wring their hands about this obscenity while doing nothing.  Why?  Why don’t they just confiscate it all and only give it back once it’s been proved that all tax due – morally or legally – has been paid on it?  What’s stopping them?  Only 192,000 people would object.

I have a lot more thoughts about this, but don’t worry, I’ll come back from Wales next week with a promise to lighten up!  And I’m genuinely looking forward to the Olympic opening show – if it’s anywhere near as good as Danny’s films, it’ll be a treat.


  1. I've always wondered what a trillion was exactly.

  2. I concur.
    A client paid cash into my business account last week (obviously without being asked to do so, or telling me in advance) & I momentarily wondered whether that would bring the wrath of HMRC down on me. Then I thought - why?
    BTW who are the extra 100,000? Accountants?

    Hope Wales will see your bathing costume. And dolphins and basking sharks (which are mostly harmless); it's the other sort to worry about.

  3. It feels like there's a new mood about these days - a more militant, less likely to take crap mood.
    I hope so. I've never manned a barricade!

    Hope you enjoyed the ceremony btw. That's the second time this year Danny Boyle's made me cry!

  4. Mig, you're still not sure, because there are two sorts apparently (could explain a lot). And she's a character in Hitch Hikers Guide. Best go with Reggie Bosanquet - 'an awfully big number.'
    Richard - oops, have I missed a zero or three in there? (shrugs, WTF). Macy -
    Macy - you're an accountant, aren't you? Please help my brother.
    The show was stupendous (the ceremony less so!) I may have to blog about the implications - a new mood indeed ...