Over the last 2 years, there has been a lot written in the press regarding tax avoidance and indeed a great deal spoken too.
It strikes me that most of the discussion and arguments have been based on a moral standing which, as those who know me will tell you, has frustrated me immensely. Why? Well, let me tell you.
The last time I looked, we had written documents referred to as Tax Legislation. It is upon this legislation that the legal arguments are formed. Please note I said “legal arguments” and not moral arguments!
My view is that if there are loopholes within the tax system, then the government have only got themselves to blame as they are the ones who write, vote on and approve the legislation. It seems to me that when a loophole is use to avoid tax (which IS legal), the politicians and the press are quick to take the moral high ground. Where was the moral high ground when the politicians’ expenses scandal hit and the press were illegally phone hacking?
If there is a loophole, then it is down to government to write effective legislation and close that loophole. It should not be down to individuals to consider their moral standing. After all, we all have different levels of morality!
Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at ACCA, argues that the recent increase in media and public interest regarding tax avoidance has obscured the fact that taxation should be a legal matter and not a moral issue. To make paying the right amount of tax a moral issue rather than a legal one risks injecting more uncertainty into an already convoluted system.