We all know the mega rich are evading tax
There’s an entire accounting industry built around corporate tax evasion. And the rich are the ones with the money to invest in exploiting the loopholes.
We accept it – like it’s unavoidable
We joke (bitterly) about it at parties:
Amazing how Packer got away with paying 10c in the dollar tax.”
We treat it more like folk-lore, urban myth or unpleasant fact of life than a serious, preventable crime. A bloke on Google+ said this to me today:
I would like to see the figures involved in money spent investigating tax evasion vs. main recovered – I suspect that the reason more isn’t done is simply because it is uneconomical – particularly in the case of middle-class tax evasion. Like most things, there is no Big Business conspiracy, just the simple fact that the Government won’t spend $2 to recover $1.”
But it’s not
This attitude isn’t just defeatist, it’s incorrect. I’m sure it didn’t cost the UK $106M to pin Ty Warner on tax evasion and fine him $53M.
And even if it did, that doesn’t mean we have to put up with tax evasion. Or pay through the nose to police it.
We should just end it
The fact of the matter is there is absolutely no justification for anyone as rich as these guys to be paying so little tax. You know it, I know it, Abbott knows it.
It shouldn’t matter what loophole or defence they claim, it’s patently absurd. If the law can’t address that, the law is effectively pandering to the needs of the rich and MUST be changed. Even if that means just changing the law so it says to these fat-cats:
Sorry, we’re not going to waste tax payer money wrangling with your lawyers for 5 years. You’re just going to pay up or go to jail. Now. End of story. No recourse.”
Western society has no problem passing mandatory sentences for blue-collar crime. (Like a college-bound kid sentenced to 10 years for being found in a car with drugs inside.) And blue-collar crimes almost always have mitigating circumstances. In tax evasion, there are none. None.
If someone’s mega-rich and they’re paying bugger-all tax, we just say, “Go to jail. Go to directly to jail. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.” Forget arguing the loopholes. Look at their real revenue, their actual tax, and make a decision. Done.
Instead we’re encouraging them
- Tony Abbott is planning an amnesty for mega-rich tax cheats. Under the amnesty, any tax cheats worth $30m or more, can avoid jail simply by fessing up. They won’t have to pay back their debt, either. They’ll only have to pay back the last 4 years’ worth!
- Abbot also axed the National Steering Committee on Corporate Wrongdoing that made sure the law was effectively enforced on corporate criminals. (“Just a sec while I turn a blind eye…”)
- And now he wants to introduce Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) to a heap of international trade agreements, giving corporations (and the mega-rich) even more power. More power, in fact, than our own High Court. These changes would allow big corporations to sue our country if they don’t get their own profitable ways. It sounds crazy, I know, but this isn’t some loony conspiracy theory. It’s already happening! Multi-national tobacco company, Philip Morris, is currently suing Australia because it enforced plain cigarette packaging. It tried a High Court case first, and that failed, so now it’s pursuing the matter via a bilateral trade agreement signed between Australia and Hong Kong in the early 1990s. If Philip Morris wins, who picks up the bill? We do. The people who actually pay tax!
Is this why we have a government?
Again and again, we see our governments favour profit over people.
Is that really why we vote them in?