Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Taxing Question of the Olympics

I'm getting a bit confused about this recent story of Barclays using tax avoidance schemes. 

Wilki defines tax avoidance and evasion thus: "In general, the term "evasion" applies to illegal actions and "avoidance" to actions within the law," which agrees with my definition.

Now a government treasury spokesman has said: "They have got caught, they disclosed this information, the HMRC has acted very quickly, there will be no benefit to the bank, they are clearly taking a substantial reputational hit and we have demonstrated that banks are simply not going to be able to get away with it."

Get away with what? Acting entirely within the law? Can't have that!

Millions of average punters read the Sunday papers' personal finance sections with a view to salting money away into legal tax avoidance schemes, yet no-one raises an eyebrow. A whole swathe of the economy is dedicated to making people's income and savings tax efficient. Banks try to minimise tax through entirely legal means and suddenly they're the Anti-Christ!

I'm not a great fan of the international banks, but I can't help feeling that the government is trying to ride the wave of anti-banking sentiment for populist political gain. Oh well, I suppose Jeremy Vine and his witless, pond-life, phone-in callers will resolve the issue.

Union leaders have called for civil disobedience during the olympics in support of the public sector. As if having the olympics in the UK isn't bad enough in itself. OK, I shall neither watch them nor enjoy them, risking prison in the process.

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