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Tory MP defends tax avoidance in the Commons

Jacob Rees- Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset, said in the Commons that tax avoidance shouldn’t be seen as a serious problem like tax evasion.

Mr Rees- Mogg spoke up in the Commons on the 23rd of February during the tax row surrounding HSBC, stating that the practice is a commonplace one, including amongst what he called the “most respectable” of families. Furthermore, the Tory MP was unequivocal in supporting tax avoidance, saying that no one is obliged to pay more than required by law, and the idea of having arrangements or schemes to minimise things like death duties are incredibly commonplace. This is in stark contrast to tax evasion, Mr Rees- Mogg added, which needs to be dealt with harshly as it’s “a very serious criminal offence,” in his words.

Now, for what it’s worth I know that the Conservative party doesn’t have a reputation of being the most in touch with reality, but this just takes the cake. I’m absolutely flummoxed that this Tory MP has more or less announced to the world that yes, tax avoidance is fine because it’s technically legal – and that he has no problem with the moral and ethical implications of being a tax dodger in everything but name. The only thing separating a tax evader from a tax avoider is a little fig leaf of regulatory loopholes that, but for its presence, would lead to hellfire raining down on the perpetrator.

I hate to break it to Mr Rees- Mogg, but ‘everyone else is doing it’ isn’t a suitable defence or justification to the practice of tax avoidance. Of course the fact that these legal loopholes have been put into the tax law by MPs keen to provide relief for high-income earning Brits in the past never seems to make it into these conversations, does it? Nor does the idea that these Tories are simply covering their own arses.

And don’t think that Labour gets off Scot-free, either. Any politician in the UK is immediately suspect as far as I’m concerned, as I can’t think of any MPs that aren’t in the higher tax bracket. The truth is that when you put the rich in charge of your country, they create laws to keep themselves rich – and then complain when you try to dismantle that infrastructure.

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