With more than a hundred billion pounds each year going uncollected in tax from the super-rich (in Britain alone) the front page of yesterday’s Daily Mail had it partially right. The first headline pointing out, “I’m a psychopath, said British banker…”; with the other article on the page observing how the company of a well-known multi-billionaire businessman (Sir Richard Branson) “had been playing ‘Russian roulette’ with [their] pilots’ lives…”
The devastating results of the ongoing decimation of public services — which the Daily Mail takes pride in undermining throughout their paper — is revealed in another article, which explains: “The health of women in their fifties is suffering as they juggle caring for aged parents, their own children and grandchildren…” (p.7) No intimation of the reasons for these problems is however discussed in the article in question.
On the other hand, the finance section of yesterday’s Daily Mail did take some interest in the serially underfunded nature of public services. Accordingly, one article outlines how the largest corporate lobby group, the CBI, said… “Britain needs to invest in its ‘crumbling’ road network and politicians must stop ‘ducking the big questions’ on infrastructure…” The article adds: “The nation’s bosses” called for the creation of a corporate friendly “independent” body “to take politics out of the decision-making process.” (p.65) Clearly, as this article makes transparent, taxpayer funded investment is now preferred in areas which might directly benefit the bank-balances of private businesses — the corporate sector having no interest in urging the Government to spend resources on creating public infrastructure, like Council houses for instance.
Yet in a different article on the same “finance” page of Daily Mail, in a discussion on the issue of housing, the group chief executive of Legal & General admits “It was a big mistake to build nothing to offset Thatcherite council house sales. Local and central government should get back into house building…” The fat-cat author professes to “want a tax system that is workable and fair” but is adamant that a mansion tax is a big step backwards, an “inefficient tax” no less. Inefficient, not because it wouldn’t raise tax revenues for public spending, but apparently because “an army of tax advisers is already working out avoidance schemes for the 57,000 homes worth £3 m or more.” (p.65)
It is such British “tax advisers” who of course ensure that around £122 billion a year goes uncollected in tax each year from the far too rich. Money that ought to be collected in order to reverse what can only be described as the managed decay of our much needed public infrastructure. Ironically, albeit for different reasons, this issue of tax avoidance is one that even the super-rich consider to be a problem. Sir Martin Sorrell, “The WPP chief [who] was previously criticised for saying that tax was a ‘matter of judgement’ for firms, and for moving his advertising goliath to Dublin for tax reasons” the Mail notes, being quoted on the finance page of the paper as warning of an impending public backlash for “pushing the boat out too far…” (p.65)
Of course the entire point of paying tax is to act to redistribute resources to help make society fairer. This is why most people are not adverse to paying tax: but this is not how the corporate sector views tax. Instead the super-rich view tax (when it must be paid) as something to be avoided at all costs; while, on the other hand, they will work exceedingly hard to ensure that they personally profit from the way the government spends any tax revenue.
Hence the Daily Mail is able to lead off their main news earlier in the paper with the headline “How biggest chunk of your hard-earned tax goes on welfare.” (p.2) Tax money being spent on helping people makes poor grist for Daily Mail propaganda, with over half of tax, according to the quoted government’s study, being spent on a combination of welfare, health and education. Thus the newspaper chooses to refer to the the “biggest chunk” of tax as going “towards Britain’s bloated welfare bill…” On the contrary, nowhere in the paper do you find tirades against the super-rich for evading tax. So here it is fitting to end with a quote from a recent report produced by the PCS union, which surmised:
“The report suggests that the UK‟s tax gap may now be £122 billion a year. This is an increase from 2010 when PCS last commissioned Richard Murphy to estimate the tax gap. It was estimated at that time, that the loss each year was £95 billion with £25 billion of tax being owed at any time. It is now estimated that the annual loss has increased to a total of £122 billion a year.
“The tax gap matters because at £122 billion a year the tax gap is only a little less than the annual budget for the NHS. It is also big enough to cover the entire UK education budget with more than £20 billion left over. That should make this issue one of the highest priorities on any politician’s agenda. The troubling fact is that this does not appear to be the case at present.”