It’s not wrong to avoid tax | David Giampaolo and Geoffrey Wood # slightly astonished to find this in the Grauniad

Why is it unethical to comply with the law? That is precisely what anyone who claims a company is immoral if it legally minimises its tax is saying. That is what anyone who boycotts Starbucks, or any other multinational company, is saying. The protesters – who have vowed to continue their action even though Starbucks agreed to pay £10m in taxes in each of the next two years – seem to be setting themselves above the law.

First of all, what place does morality have in this? There are some universally agreed moral principles – do not kill is pretty widely accepted – but does this really fall into the same category? Is it right, for example, to have a friend round to dinner rather than send some money to feed the hungry? Some will say one thing, some another. Universal moral principles are of the greatest importance, but are not a guide to every detail of life.

continues at It's not wrong to avoid tax | David Giampaolo and Geoffrey Wood | Comment is free | The Guardian.

2 thoughts on “It’s not wrong to avoid tax | David Giampaolo and Geoffrey Wood # slightly astonished to find this in the Grauniad

  1. Simon Waters

    They seem to be saying that the law is the final arbiter of ethical principles – I think it rather sad if that is their view.

    They also seem to be assuming what Starbucks have done is legal, it might be wise to withhold judgment on that till the HMRC have finished with them.

    The claim that the more tax a company avoids the more its owners will pay is simply laughable.

    They deploy also the tired and defeated arguments of tickle-down economics. Or the rich pissing on the poor as it has been described.

    If Starbucks siphon off UK profits to avoid tax by doubtful methods you can be sure that little if any tax will be paid as this money is transitioned to the pockets of the people who control the company. It certainly won’t be paid into the UK coffers.

    If it had been taken as tax it would likely be spent in the UK by the government making our lives better.

    I agree with them that tax laws probably need adjustment (and enforcement), but ultimately in complex company arrangements it is all to easy for people to hide or move money. Witness the manipulation of contracts to shuffle profits out of South West Water (where they are regulated) to other companies, allowing them to inflate the price of water in the South West. Ultimately we need external auditing to prevent and avoid these kinds of issue, which is why HMRC are getting more cash.

    Reply
    1. alecm Post author

      I think they’re saying that the law is the law, and if ethical principles don’t match the law then one or other should bend or be ignored.

      Makes sense to me.

      Reply

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