Being a retired person of limited means and, therefore, someone who continues to struggle with the question as to whether I should purchase online with Amazon, I read with some interest that HM Revenue and Customs has published a name-and-shame list of tax evaders.
Included in the hit-list is a Liverpool hairdresser (“Cut price”), a pipe-fitter (“No screw-ups”), a Nottingham knitwear firm (“Woolly, but warm”), and a Cheshire wine company (“9 wines for purring”).* It would seem that the amount of tax reclaimed from these master criminals is limited to a maximum of five figures for each, or, if you like, somewhat less than the amount per year in tax reductions that the government will grant to millionaires in the new financial year.
Ah! well. I suppose that the Chancellor of the Exchequer needs to claw back revenues lost through giving gifts to his kind.
Of course, the UK’s overall financial deficit could be largely wiped-out by cancelling the £100b nuclear submarine programme (something substantial will need to happen with this project when and if Scotland becomes independent from the rest of the UK). But that might be a too-straightforward course of action and would upset that other close friend of conservative governments, the arms industry, as well as the powerful MOD. It is not too hard to understand that the firmest support for the gun lobby in the USA is from the conservative Republican Party!
On several occasions, the Treasury minister, David Gauke, has suggested that tax avoiders have nowhere to hide. That is reassuring, except if your tax dodging is brazenly out in the open – as it is with such firms as Amazon and Google! It would be a bit like counting your money whilst travelling in the glass Pope-mobile in which the Bishop of Rome sometimes travels – can be seen by the public but the thick glass cannot be penetrated. Is this perhaps a question of untouchability?
Is it not amazing that the government can imperil the lives of millions of British citizens with its austerity programme – in such areas as social welfare spending – yet finds difficulty in devising a taxation programme that might challenge multi-national companies or, for that matter, putting a check on the increasingly rampant spending on the multi-member monarchy!
What if a wealthy friend of one of those being shamed by HM Revenue and Customs were to hire the tax lawyers used by Google or Amazon. Would that pipe fitter stand to enjoy receiving a multi-thousand-pound rebate rather than signing-over a cheque for £10,986 to HMRC? Now, that is something to think about!
I will continue to struggle with personal purchases from Amazon, but it would be made much easier if the government would assist me by altering the tax laws so that the company, rather than my conscience, pays the legitimate price for its transactions. This is rightly a matter for government action rather than a personal financial or moral issue.
* N.B. All puns are personal and intended, and will, I trust, lend some humour to the gravitas of this article.
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