Let’s think before we judge on tax

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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Nobody likes to pay tax, not me, not you and certainly not multi-millionaires and big corporations who claim not to earn any profits in this country, ever, at all, honest.

We moan and shake our heads at the information oozing out of the leaked’ Paradise Papers’ (I must stop singing that Coldplay song) but deep down most of us are guilty at one time or another of avoiding tax, or at least turning a blind eye.

It may have been as simple as paying the plumber cash in hand for fixing the washing machine, or perhaps you ‘forgot’ to offer a receipt when the old lady got you to lay a patio outside of her bungalow in Yaxley – “How much for cash luv?”

How often have you heard that phrase, how often have you succumbed? It’s no different for the rich and powerful, it’s just a matter of scale.

Just because they have millions in the bank doesn’t mean that they want to part with their hard earned any more than you do.

You could argue that your countless small deceits, when added together, account for much more than the mountain of cash that Mrs Brown’s boys and girls allegedly shipped to Mauritius. Of course, it looks worse when the numbers are so big.

According to the para-para Paradise Papers, Britain’s recently crowned, four time, Formula One champion, Lewis Hamilton, was in pole position when it came to saving a few bob on a private jet.

Some folks are aghast at what they see as the hypocrisy of it all; people being made to work until they drop, councils like Peterborough drowning under government cuts and the NHS stopping IVF in Cambridgeshire, all because supposedly, there is no money left in the pot.

But those folks barking at the moon are the same ones who would happily take away your bulky waste for twenty-quid and fly-tip it at Fengate.

So, until we all change our scruples and adopt a different approach to tax I don’t think any of us can really blame Bono from U2, for investing in Lithuania’s version of Fawlty Towers.

And it’s a bit rich to accuse Apple of using Jersey as its own private, tax free, piggy bank, particularly when we still eagerly snap up their phones and tablets.

All the money that is not collected in tax could go a very long way to solving the financial issues facing this country.

According to recent figures cash in hand jobs cost the UK treasury about £6bn in lost tax revenue each year, so it is not just small change.

A move to a cashless society would soon sort that one out but that has to go hand in hand with a proper root and branch change to the tax system for the super-rich and the big corporations, with punitive penalties for those who flagrantly bend the rules to avoid paying their fair share.

The two must go together.

It’s no use Lewis Hamilton purchasing his planes at Stansted if you are still paying your window cleaner a tenner out of your back pocket and vice versa.

Until that day arrives, 
until we reach that tax para, para paradise, perhaps we should all refrain from adopting a ‘holier than thou attitude.’