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.