The changing view of tax
Is it OK to avoid tax? Not long ago the majority of people might have agreed that it was. After all, as along as you aren’t doing anything illegal (ie, evading tax), what business is it of anyone else’s?
That view is changing. In his budget, George Osborne said he regarded “aggressive tax avoidance” as “morally repugnant”. He then made a brave attempt (since failed) to force Britain into a minimum universal income tax rate by capping the level of tax reliefs any one person can claim. The press then picked up on the scandal of public-sector employees avoiding national insurance and cutting their overall tax bills by having their salaries paid via companies.
This week things have moved further, with a cover story series in The Times headlined “The Tax Avoiders”. The paper claims that avoidance costs Britain £4.5bn a year; exposes a particularly aggressive scheme apparently used by comedian Jimmy Carr to make his income-tax liability vanish; and has a go at the tax affairs of Take That too. I’m with The Times on this one. Why should Carr be allowed to channel his income via Jersey to avoid taxes when he lives, works in and benefits from Britain?
• Read the full editor’s letter here: The changing view of tax.