Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some More Scratchings Of The Head At What's Going On

By what process of bi-polar fugue did David Cameron jump from being handed a list of alleged paedophiles to demanding vigilance against a 'gay witch-hunt'? What was in his head? 

Was he invoking the name of a sexual minority as a smokescreen, verbal teargas, to avoid having to deal with the card being handed to him by Philip Schofield? Or was he suggesting that paedophiles are homosexuals? Without passing comment on either proposition, it seems to have been a very radical mental leap. 

Partcipating in this thread on tax has sharpened the focus of some thoughts about that issue, and the most prominent of these is that when a right-wing loony says that tax is theft they are spouting nonsense. In our country, tax is not theft. Tax is a product of law, and as such it cannot be theft. Describing tax as theft is not unlike calling an apple an orange and expecting people to believe you. It is a nonsensical comment, fevered gibberish. The unwelcome advance of ideology into Parliament has made tax a far more divisive issue than it should be, for sure, and it will remain divisive while people continue to believe that something which is perfectly legal is in fact illegal, a form of civic schizophrenia.

What is certainly iniquitous about the British way of paying tax is that so much of the per capita tax burden falls upon those unable to afford expensive professional advice on how to avoid it. Tax avoidance really is, to use Ralph Nader's phrase, 'the rising tide that lifts all yachts'; the more tax you avoid, the more expensive the advice you can obtain in order to avoid paying even more tax. That being the case, if it is the case that HMRC provides advice to taxpayers on how to avoid tax it should stop doing so. Now, that really is theft; taxpayers who take advice from HMRC on how to avoid tax consult public servants that those who do not have the wherewithal to avoid tax fund in order to collect tax. In other words, in the UK the poor who pay tax via PAYE fund tax collectors who advise the rich on how to avoid tax. This is nuts, and it's got to stop.

I would be all in favour of a very much simpler tax sytem, with lower rates set for all types of tax for far longer, provided that a universal expectation of payment is enshrined within the law. Company law should be amended to the effect that the veil of incorporation and the duty to maximise returns to shareholders are at all times secondary to the obligation to pay all lawful taxes at full rate. Every limited company or trading instrument should be required to appoint an individual known as the 'Nominated Taxpayer', and if that vehicle is found to have evaded tax or otherwise failed to comply with its tax obligations it would be that individual who would face both civil and criminal penalties. Fining companies does not work, as fines then come to be treated as part of the normal cost of doing business. This encourages lawlessness on the part of companies, and the encouragement of lawlessness is contrary to public policy at all times and under all circumstances. A simple system of low tax which is expected to be paid on pain of harsh penalties - now that's one aspect of post-Soviet Russian civic culture that we could be doing with a good dose of here.



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