This month it was revealed that Amazon, Google, and Starbucks have systematically been avoiding tax on most of their profits. The glib view these companies take of their tax obligations was on full display two weeks ago, when Amazon’s Director of Public Policy, Andrew Cecil, caused the usually sedate members of the public accounts committee to scold him for his ‘outrageous’ and ‘deliberately evasive’ responses and his fantastical claim that he was not aware of how much Amazon made from its British operations. These companies are not exceptions. The total amount avoided in tax is approximately £25 billion; the amount illegally evaded is far higher, at £70 billion. In reality, the distinction between avoidance and evasion is nebulous, arising at least as much from the pusillanimity of tax inspectors as legislative loopholes. Over the last eight years, HMRC has failed to take to court a single company for avoidance of corporation tax, preferring to conclude amicable arrangements which result in companies paying a titular sum amounting to only a pitiful fraction of their actual liabilities. The image of the pertinacious taxman obstinately pursuing tax-dodgers is something that only applies when it comes to the rest of us, not big business. Moreover, HMRC’s inherent lassitude in enforcing corporation tax is compounded by the government’s efforts to reduce it a token organization, with only a token staff. 10,000 of its already over-burdened inspectors are to be made redundant once new budget cuts come into effect.
too tired to comment properly but:
It is a measure of our current ideological morass that liberals, in their own enlightened and open-minded way, still masochistically embrace a throne-and-altar orthodoxy that subordinates the people’s will to a virtually unalterable diktat handed down by an ancient council of aristocratic, semi-deified lawgivers. At this very moment, when expansionary monetary policy and debt relief for homeowners are demanded by the Left to address the ongoing, grinding social crisis, it should not be forgotten that “a rage for paper money” and “an abolition of debts” were precisely the sorts of “wicked project[s]” that James Madison, writing in Federalist No. 10, specifically hoped his Constitution would rule out.
we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we’re telling them, “This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way.” That’s not something we’re going to do.