Monday 26 January 2015


When Britain was the workshop of the world the key industry was making things and selling them to the world. Now that we've become the financial service centre of the world the key industry is inventing fiddles and selling them .Our most profitable industry is now the tax avoidance industry which saves corporations £120 billion in tax by selling them schemes for tax avoidance and evasion. If HMRC collected a quarter of that there'd be no need for austerity

The Big Four accountancy houses are the  aristocrats of fiddle.They make profits of around $115 billion a year and between 30 and 35% of this comes from tax advice, say$40 billion. We should impose a tax surcharge on that but they pretend to be multinationals in their sales talk but sell their schemes  through offices in other countries such as Luxembourg when accused of doing Britain down

But the industry is bigger than them. It includes all the big City law firms who advise corporations  and the wealthy how to pay less tax as well as the big consultants and advisers and of course the in house experts most corporations have. Tax dodging doesn't support a huge number of employees, as manufacturing once did, but it does make them much wealthier than manufacturing ever did

The fees are big the risks small. Dodgers Inc will sell schemes which it knows are likely to be struck down because it knows that HMRC will take a long time to catch up, it may never do so, and if it does strike a dodge down it's the users who have to pay. The sellers escape scot free

No sanctions. No threats. The Chief of HMRC is from KPMG and others from the big houses sit in the board or advise HMRC on tax matters so it would be a bit difficult to distinguish between poachers and gamekeepers if the gamekeepers weren't paid so much less

Isn't it time to deal with an industry which makes the few rich at the cost of robbing the many? Why not start by requiring all companies to publish their tax regimes and announce any schemes they are using to reduce tax and how much they paid who for them. Then require  every multinational to publish country by country accounts so that everyone can see how much profit was made here and how much tax was dodged on it. We must shed light on this murky world before we can deal with it.

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