Tuesday, July 24, 2012

As morally wrong as say avoiding stamp duty?

Much hilarity ensued at castle QM when the various articles in today's online news sites stated that paying someone in cash was as morally wrong as tax avoidance.
For both are legal pastimes. Nor do I blame anyone from accepting cash in hand either, I mostly consider it cutting out the middleman ie the government.
People who pay cash in hand to tradesmen are “morally wrong”, damaging the economy and helping tax evaders, a minister has warned.
David Gauke, a Treasury minister, told The Daily Telegraph that home owners who allow workmen to evade VAT or income tax were forcing others to pay more.
His comments reflect growing concern in Whitehall about the cash-in-hand economy, which costs Britain billions of pounds a year in lost tax revenues.
This being the same David Gauke who claimed over £10,000 worth of expenses back from taxpayers to avoid paying the stamp duty and fees involved in the purchase of his home in London, yes, that David Gauke whose wife is also a tax avoidance lawyer. Guido has all the dirty details if you want to read them.
Yet for all that Gauke is morally repugnant, he hasn't actually broken the law, yet he has used the law to benefit through tax avoidance as pretty much anyone who has received cash in hand has for their troubles. Yet receiving cash in hand isn't really a crime, just not declaring your income is so it's a bit hypocritical of Gauke to go criticising people who choose to pay in cash rather than those who don't declare their income as well.
Any politician who goes on about 'morality' is of course heading straight for trouble as the breed as a whole are not exactly known for morality, good behaviour, common sense or indeed honesty.
What it boils down to is an overly complex tax system in the UK where instead of say a flat rate, we have various types and levels of taxation, including legal loopholes, grants and reliefs on income. We also have, VAT, corporate taxation, council tax, road tax all needing collected and administered. Tax law is a bit of a minefield for anyone who doesn't specialise in it and occasionally even the various collectors get it wrong.
If it was simple and concise, there would be less in the way of 'fiddling' or even morally questionable avoidance, though again I see nothing wrong with avoiding paying tax and keeping as much as possible out of the hands of the government.
Gauke should perhaps have remembered the old maxim about people in glass houses not throwing bricks. His idea of morally wrong is aimed at the wrong target for one, they are doing nothing more illegal than he did.

3 annotations:

wiggiatlarge said...

As billionaires s Leona Helmsley was overheard to say and was repeated at her trial for tax evasion "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes...", Gauke is only showing the tradition of hypocrisy is still very much in the ascendant for those who rule despite recent revelations.

Anonymous said...

The minute I heard this last night I thought... ouch, silly man. He must have done that at some time... as in pay the window cleaner, or tip a porter, pay a little man to get all the weeds out of his vegetable patch...etc

We all do it.

But there you go.

I didn't think to look into his background for very serious tax avoidance.

I painted my mum's kitchen not long ago. She would have given me money if I'd have let her, but I wouldn't. However, my friend who is a university student helped me, and she absolutely insisted that she give him dinner and a load of extra food to take home!

I expect we shall be hearing soon from Mr Gauke that my mother is morally repugnant.

It's not so much that I object to being lectured by a tin pot little nobody as David Gauke. It is that we pay him to be a minister, a very very great deal more than I get paid, and yet clearly he doesn't bother to think before he opens his mouth, or he does think but nothing much happens, or he genuinely believes that this is the sort of thing that he is above.

Another example, if it were needed of just how elite, detached and thick, members of the Westminster government appear to be.

andy5759 said...

Come friendly b*mbs and fall on W*stm*nster!
It isn't fit for humans now. (Must avoid the dawn raid).

Yeah! Come the revolution. I NEVER thought I would post that line.