Further to Dr. Alf’s reblogging of the excellent FT article entitled “Cadbury – the Great Tax Fudge“, I would like to share my views.
The bulk of the tax havens in the world were set up by the UK and are a relic of our colonial and imperial past.
During and after the banking crisis billions were laundered and transferred to these tax havens and then transmuted into gold, fine art and investment property.
Throughout the world at least £32 trillion GBP lies hidden offshore and it is not coming back.
The rich and the powerful have always been able to pay for the best possible tax advice whilst the UK Government pays its tax inspectors a pittance by comparison and reduces their numbers savagely.
So for all the angry rhetoric from Cameron and the political elite the reality is that “little people pay taxes (Source: the late Leona Helmsley) whilst plutocrats and smart operators pay next to nothing and always will.
The solution to tax avoidance is very simple, lower taxes to competitive levels to destroy the incentive for people to fiddle them and hide money offshore as Singapore, Switzerland, Panama, Monaco, Andorra and Lichtenstein do. That would bring much of it back onshore.The reason this does not happen is because with high taxes and poor oversight over programs, money can be wasted and misappropriated by those in control.
Currently Singapore delivers services for 1/3rd the cost we seem to manage and we are 17th in the world for value per taxpayer pound.
The reasons for this are not just down to cock-ups, incompetence and waste and these need to be independently investigated by forensic accountants completely unconnected with Government contracts, thus excluding the Big 4.
If you were to subject all Civil Service Mandarins, Government Ministers and Quango heads to a full independent and regular audit of all their financial affairs including wives, mistresses, children, relatives and their immediate associates you would discover very quickly the true picture.
Thus the politicians including MPs who in many cases have been found to be a bunch of expense fiddlers and shysters, have a vested interest in keeping the present unfair and uncompetitive tax system as it is.
Until we say enough, in the way that the Brazilian people have, the present system will remain thus crystallizing inequality into two sets of people such as the ones I observed yesterday at Royal Ascot, plutocrats in air conditioned Bentleys and private helicopters sitting in luxury in the Royal enclosure and the great unwashed masses in their fascinators and cheap outfits, slumming it in the overcast sky, guzzling cheap lager and devouring burgers in the vast expanse of grass known as the Silver Ring.
There is a great need to simplify taxes. It is a nonsense that it is cheaper for HMRC to accept a bad compromise with a large company than it is to fight a case in a tribunal. It id also of interest that most times when they do take people to a tribunal, those people are of modest means and HMRC knows cannot afford the big guns large corporate companies employ.
Personally I would scrap corporation tax and find other ways of filling the gap. Two that I consider really should be explored are to tax businesses on the amount of floor space they use and the amount of land they have available to them. There should be regional rates and “land available” would include amenity space around offices, owned car parks and sites which have been land-banked for later use. It would be difficult to see how there could then be any disputes. Naturally there would be a suggestion that, as now, taxes should be linked to profits – that is fine if you can provide an absolutely accurate definition of “profit”. We can’t even find one for “sales” (in the sense of sales in the UK) or of “Tax deductibles” – which is where a lot of the litigation comes in. Since taxable profit as a flawed sales figure less a disputable amount.
Now for the wealthy individuals. Either their loot is sitting somewhere and probably doing something useful or they are spending it. Let’s go for the latter. Sliding scale Sales Tax (VAT if you like but not quite the same). The ST on a car sold for £2,500 = 0%. On a car sold for £5,000 = 1% and so on until on a car sold for £150,000 it is 100%. Same idea on other consumables. Think of the status you would now have if you bought a motor yacht for £1,500,000 and had had to pay tax of the same amount!
As to watching the pennies. Here I do not agree with Alf. Keep the spenders small and local and give the people the right to see proper accounts on a monthly basis, all accounts to be published by the 14th of the following month and displayed in local papers, post offices, on line, etc.
Many thanks for your thoughtful reply.
Let’s try to focus on possible points of agreement.
1. Making loan interest for foreign loans non-deductible?
2. Increasing rate of tax on foreign dividends?