The constant clashes between tax avoiding millionaires, benefit cheats, and the sanctimonious and often corrupt politicians that condemn them could well go on for centuries, if by then we haven’t come up with a better way of paying for our roads and health service. There has always been a gross disparity between the consequences for those involved, and those with the least, and stealing the least, being dealt with most harshly.
Tax avoidance isn’t illegal, though costing the states billions in potential income. The excuse given to leaving the loopholes open are usually along the lines of “there are too many” and the impending fear of losing all the potential tax from all the rich that would leave as a result. The former can be dismissed with a stern “just deal with it. It’s your job.”, but the latter does provide an interesting idea. Companies in the UK make lots of profit, as we are a country of ravenous consumers. Would they really leave simply because they had to pay some more tax? If instead, the alternative was to operate from a different country (such as…Luxembourg), then that just means we’d have to make regulations regarding that (this also seems like a useful job for the EU). The situation does not appear to be that insurmountable. If instead, it’s conniving individuals who want to leave the country if they have to pay a fair amount of tax, then I don’t think it’s too harsh to say that we’re probably better off without them. However, it’s not just avoidance that is granted amnesty by the government, but also illegal evasion, if you’re rich enough. In 2010, Vodafone was let off £6bn in tax (even after it was declared they had broken laws by not paying it). It’s true, Cameron did criticise Jimmy Carr for avoiding tax, but he employed Phillip Green, tax avoider extraordinaire, as a Government advisor. This is largely illustrative of the current government’s attitude towards paying tax.
It’s true, looking deeper into the situation makes him look a bit less like greedy scum, as there is the personal matter of him wanting to keep his sexuality private, and as soon as discovered he started to pay the over-claimed amount back. The subsequent loss of outrage isn’t helped by the group complaining about him being so homophobic (It’s not that he’s gay, but…) However, it doesn’t change the fact that his actions were no less deliberately misleading than that of Carol Irving, and he has had very little consequences for his actions. Even feeling all sympathetic and liberal (as I am often prone to do), this sort of comparison does not look favourable at all, and that fact that he is returning to government is quite ridiculous. Surely, for society to run smoothly, we need consistent punishments for crimes?
What this country, and indeed the whole world, needs more equality. Not only in the level of income people receive (which is my usual harping point), but in their punishments, criticism and consequences.
Bit more to read on this subject: