Via the Englishman, this article which reminds me again of one of the things which makes me eject bilis and sputum at anyone who approaches too closely. A few observations:
- There is no spirit of the tax law.
- Tax avoidance is not frowned upon.
- Anyone who pays more tax than they have to is a fool.
- Anyone who does not organize their affairs so as to be liable to as little tax is possible is, therefore, a fool.
- Anyone responsible for a company (or other peope's money in any form) who does not do everything possible to limit the tax liabilty of the company is wasting his employer's or shareholders' money, an should be sacked.
- Tax is an administrative matter. We must obey or we will be jailed or fined, but the only possible meaning 'right' and 'wrong' can have in this context- if they mean anything at all- is acting in accordance with the administrative framework defined by the law. In other words, getting the paperwork right.
- Tax avoidance is, by definition, legal. It simply means paying no more tax than you have to.
- There is no 'spirit' of the tax law. The concept is meaningless.
Criminal law, and in some cases civil law, attempt to frame a greater moral sense of right and wrong perceived to exist within the society that produces that law, and to provide a means by which society may express its moral sense and defend itself from those offend it. There is a very real understanding that the law itself is subordinate to that moral sense, and derives its importance from it. Administrative law is paperwork. It states how thing should be done. It does not attempt to encapsulate any prior sense of right and wrong held by the society it regulates.
It is particularly absurd for the Treasury to say that tax avoidance is frowned upon since it is they who make the rules that define what may or may be done in this regard. To complain when people obey them is quite ridiculous.