Friday, February 13, 2015

Tax cheating is not normal

A clash between UK opposition leader Ed Miliband and Conservative Party Treasurer Stanley Fink has forced the latter to admit that he is a tax cheat. But in the process, he also made an outrageous claim: that tax cheating is "normal" in UK society:

The peer – a multimillionaire former hedge fund manager turned Conservative donor and philanthropist – also said he did take “vanilla” tax avoidance measures, including transferring shares into family trusts while he worked in Switzerland.

In an interview with the Evening Stardard, Fink said: “The expression tax avoidance is so wide that everyone does tax avoidance at some level.”

No, they don't. To point out the obvious, in order to cheat on your taxes in this way, you have to have a shitload of money. Not just to pay the dodgy accountants who enable it, but to make it worthwhile in the first place. And ordinary UKanians don't. They don't have shares to transfer into family trusts. They don't have foreign bank accounts to hide the money in. And they certainly don't have the piles of cash which would make the costs of doing this outweigh the taxes they dodge. Tax-cheating is only "normal" amongst the wealthy. And we shouldn't let them dictate our perceptions of its ethics.