What’s that? You haven’t been paying your taxes? You haven’t been succumbing your hard-earned pennies to a government who think they know how to spend them better than you? Good for you, fancy a pint?
Tax avoidance is always a favourite for those seeking their daily dose of outrage, and one the socialists are never slow to sink their teeth into. Whether it be Starbucks, Apple or perhaps Gary Barlow, you can guarantee someone is plotting their trip to the gallows. If you want to find one, they can usually be located supping a cappuccino, pumping out some Take That, while tweeting live updates via their new iPhone 6.
I subscribe to a rather different view. Not only should we take guidance from those who have managed to coin it in over the years, but that we too should give the taxman an annual ‘up yours’.
Whenever you hear the phrase “government money”, substitute ‘government’ with ‘your’. Since that’s what it is. The government has no money of its own. Everything a country does is bankrolled by its people.
I’m sure most would agree it is far easier to spend money that isn’t yours. As a kid, money seemingly does grow on trees – it was so much easier then, wasn’t it? The government, however, resembles Peter Pan living in an orchard. Long in to adulthood, they are still merrily frittering away money in child-like fashion, without consideration for those who have worked tooth and nail to fund their obscene spending habits. The previous Labour government’s hapless computerisation plan for the NHS was scrapped in 2011, after it became clear the £11bn project was doomed to failure. Who picked up the tab? Not them.
Perhaps it would be slightly more stomachable if politicians actually represented our interests and spent the money accordingly – but they don’t. Take foreign aid. Research from the Institution of Development Studies in 2010 indicated 63 per cent of people supported a reduction in Britain’s foreign aid budget in an attempt to reduce the deficit. Moreover, much of Britain’s foreign aid is unaudited – we might as well cut out the middleman and give it directly to the corrupt despot. However, despite the public making their stance clear, in December 2014 MPs voted with a 141 majority to ring-fence foreign aid at 0.7% of GDP – a policy that has seen the country’s aid budget actually increase.
The Iraq war of 2003 is another poignant example. The final poll before Britain’s invasion in March of that year suggested only 26 per cent backed the government’s decision, one that resulted in an eventual financial cost of £8.4bn according to the Ministry of Defence – perhaps that could have paid for some nurses?
The more the state “plans” the more difficult planning becomes for the individual. – Friedrich Hayek
We all have personal grudges as well – whether it be the National Health Service, our European Union membership, or maybe a loathing of those drunk on their own benefits. It boils down to personal freedom. Why should people be forced to pay for something they don’t want? As the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek so succinctly put it: “The more the state “plans” the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”
Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan’s article for CapX eloquently explained how the current system lends itself to tax avoidance. Indeed, it seems once again a case of mistaking the symptom for the ailment. Avoidance is the inevitable outcome if you attempt to punish someone for their prosperity. The only long-term solution is lower and flatter taxes.
Election soundbites more often than not involve unrealistic financial pledges which the public are expected to lap up. There will be plenty of them in the coming months. Just remember, you’ll be the one paying for them.
So whether it’s storing money on some palm-tree infested island thousands of miles away, or merely plonking it in an ISA in a bank down the High Street, no one is powerless to take one look at government spending and say “not in my name”.
Tax avoiders are just independent individuals or companies keen to protect themselves from politicians whose actions make taxation look more like thievery. Tax avoiders aren’t selfish, they just want to keep what is theirs. Is there anything wrong with that? You can do it too. In fact, we all should.
So, how about that pint?