Tag Archive | "tax evasion"

If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime

While we wait to see the outcome of last week’s reported Xavi Alonso case, we find ourselves gazing out of the window here are CA Towers, daydreaming about what life in prison is really like. Not that we hope to find out any time soon, but we’ve all seen Banged Up Abroad and old episodes of Prisoner Cell Block H, and we can’t say it’s a prospect that we relish.

But this week, it’s been reported by law firm Pinsent Masons that prison terms for tax evasion have increased by 10%, and now average two years and seven months in the clink. That’s almost 1000 days locked up in a cell, eating prison food, smoking spice and avoiding Dave ‘Knuckles’ Smith down the corridor. After all, there’s no guarantee you’re going to end up in a cushy category C prison, given current overcrowding issues, even if you are a first-time offender. 

HMRC Aren’t Far Behind you

Just like ‘Knuckles’ Smith, HMRC is continuing to ‘crack down’ on tax evasion and is pushing for longer sentences and more people to be charged with offences related to non-payment of taxes. Over the year 2017-18, 1,010 individuals were charged with tax evasion and that number is set to grow as initiatives such as Making Tax Digital mean that those who may have slipped through the net before, have fewer places to run and hide.

Thankfully, you needn’t wake up in a cold sweat, waiting for a knock on the door from the Old Bill. Here at Contractor Accountants dot com, we have you covered. Whether you’re a traditional freelancer, agency contractor, or even a bit of both, all it takes is filling out our quick form for a callback or a free quote on accountancy services for contractors. That ensures that you can sleep soundly at night, happy in the knowledge that your accountancy needs are being taken care of by one of our recommended specialist expert accountants. 

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Ronal…DOH! (Tax Evasion)

Regular readers of Contractor Accountants will be aware of footballer Ronaldo and his long running tax evasion case in Spain.

The ex Real Madrid player was accused of avoiding his Spanish tax duties, and instead, stashing away his cash in the Cayman Islands.

The football star, who now plays for Juventus, has always claimed his innocence, but in the past week the whole case was turned upside down.

It now turns out that Ronaldo is guilty of the crime. And what do they do with those guilty of tax evasion in Spain? They chuck them in the slammer, of course.

So is Ronaldo about to swap the black and white stripes of Juventes for a black and white convict outfit? Will he be wearing the stripes of a Madrid prison football jersey?

In a word…NO.

Despite being guilty and letting out a big “DOH!” in court…it appears that Ronaldo will avoid spending any time in prison.

Instead, here at CA we understand he has agreed to pay around 19 million Euros to the Spanish tax authorities and in return he will be spared time in the jail house.

Eye witnesses in the court room said everyone let out a “GASP” when the judge slammed down the hammer and announced “23 Months For You.”

But that “GASP” turned to “RELIEF” when the judge offered Ronaldo a deal.

“Give us 19 million Euros and we keep you out of the handcuffs,” the judge may or may not have said (Our Spanish is not that good).

“DEAL,” replied Ronaldo, without even thinking.

You know something tells me that Ronaldo could have avoided this whole mess if he had a contractor accountant by his side.

During the years of 2011 and 2014 it is said that Ronaldo hid 15 million Euros from Spain. It really does make you wonder who his accountant was during this time? Did he even have an accountant?

Maybe he did his own books and just scribbled down some numbers everytime he got a cheque through the post or a bag of cash from his agent? Whatever happened…I reckon he could have avoided this with a contractor accountant in his corner.

Just like Jose Mourinho. Word on the street is he visited Contractor Accountants and declared us the “special ones.”

Or Wayne Rooney…who found us while sunning himself up on Skegness beach.

The moral of the story here is simple. No matter if you are a famous professional footballer or just an average contractor working in an office…you need to hire one of the best contractor accountants to be on your side.

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Tax Avoidance – Accountants Called to the Dock

The recent Panama and Paradise papers have highlighted the fact that tax avoidance and evasion is a real problem in the UK.

Because of this, HMRC and MPs are looking to come down on offenders hard, which means you can be expecting to see a lot of convictions in the headlines over the coming months.

It isn’t just the self employed and business owners who are going to be put into the spotlight either. Usually, in these type of situations the accountants who mastermind the whole thing are given a free pass and allowed to continue with business as usual, but, this time around they won’t be so fortunate.

For example, a subcommittee of the Treasury select committee are soon going to be getting together to look closer at self employed people who are named in the Panama and Paradise papers, and if they feel the need, this subcommittee can use their powers to summon any accountant to face the music.

Major accountancy firms are expected to come under fire during this whole process, many of which have took on high profile clients in the past who went on to be named in the Panama and Paradise papers.

If you ask me, this sends out a clear message to accountants all around the country…if you help to commit the crime, then you could very well end up doing the time.

They are the architects of many of these tax evasion and avoidance schemes, so it shouldn’t comes as any surprise that MPs now want to speak with them.

Sure, in the past accountants have usually been left alone when high profile tax evasion cases have come into the public domain, but this time around something tells me things are going to be a lot different.

The chairman of the subcommittee had this to say -”We’ll be pressing the enablers and facilitators in the tax profession and others, summoning them before parliament to hear how their schemes work and how they justify it.”

One trick that accountants invented for their clients is the act of setting up offshore companies and then buying private jets through these companies, renting them back to themselves, and saving a substantial amount on VAT.

The VAT man is not happy, as you would expect, and now he has the power of the government behind him, you can expect action to be taken.

It might even get sent to the high court of England, where ordinary accountants will be summoned to the dock and be tried in front of a judge and jury. The hammer may even be slammed down, and a prison sentence given out…all for masterminding these tax avoidance schemes.

My advice to the self employed, business owners and contractors out there…choose your accountant wisely, and if they start telling you about these “amazing schemes to save you money,” then run a mile.

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Ronaldo in Court Over Tax Charges – Faces Jail

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the Cristiano Ronaldo tax saga that has been going on since last year. Well, this week he was in court.

The Real Madrid star took to the dock and faced prosecutors who claim he has evaded almost £14 million pounds in tax. If found guilty in a Spanish court of law, then it’s possible Ronaldo could be doing some jail time, with a potential 3 and half years banged up on the cards.

Of course, because Ronaldo doesn’t have previous, then it’s unlikely that he is going to end up in the slammer if found guilty, but it is a possibility.

Also, you have the recent case of Barcelona player Lionel Messi who was found guilty of tax evasion in Spain. While some pundits were saying that he faced jail time, in the end all that happened is that he got a fine and had to pay back taxes.

I’m sure Messi didn’t enjoy writing out that cheque, but when you’ve got millions in the bank and don’t have to join the prison football team, then I’m sure the cheque got paid out to the Spanish government pretty quickly.

So will Ronaldo also be writing out a cheque? Right now it’s difficult to say, mainly because although the Real Madrid star did appear in court, he didn’t actually make any statement, although in a previous statement issued to the press he did mention that there has been no wrong doing on his part.

This court case in Madrid (where no guilt or innocence has been proven remember) has really caught the attention of media outlets worldwide, with one onlooker noting that 40 TV crews and 100 journalists were waiting outside of the court for a chance to speak with Ronaldo.

However, it appears the Portuguese footballer is as elusive off the pitch as he is on it, because he managed to dodge the media both entering and leaving the court, before being whisked away by his driver and back to his mansion in the suburbs of Madrid.

So what exactly are prosecutors claiming that Ronaldo did wrong? Apparently, they are saying he formed a complicated company structure, with the help of accountants, to hide income that was generated from image rights. Some commentators who are following the case closely also note that income may have been sent to offshore accounts in places like the British Virgin Islands.

Who knows exactly what has gone on here, but what I do know is that while many contractors in the UK might be reading about this story with interest, they are way more concerned about their business and income.

No matter if Ronaldo is proven innocent or he finds himself in jail for 3 and half years, the only thing you really care about is getting a good contractor accountant…something which you can find right here.

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EU Tax Reforms And Imminent Transparency Online Register

The move towards total corporate transparency took two huge steps this week. Tax avoidance and evasion are the main targets of both.

But while the EU “Action Plan” has received a warm reception, Boodle Hatfield raised concerns about the UK initiative:

  1. the EU is to revisit 2011’s Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base in an attempt to reform the way businesses record and report their tax;
  2. In the UK, concerns are raised about the PSC Register, as similar concept, which will be effective from April next year.

EU CCCTB Mandatory, but phased

The original talks around the Common Consolidated Tax Base hit a brick wall. But with global tax transparency the byword for so many initiatives, the European Commission wants to give the legislation fresh legs.

The first phase will be achieving one common database for the member states. This harks back to another proposal from earlier this year.

That was the “Tax Transparency Package” (see, told you it was a hot topic), aimed at all member states. Its essence was based on the need for immediate reporting on decisions each member’s government made on its own corporate tax issues.

The second phase, the spanner in the works to date, is consolidating this information. What shape a consolidated database may take, and the level of reporting therein, we could know as soon as 2016.

Are all member states capable of collating and sharing their tax data?

There are member states who will oppose the sharing of such information. Who knows what level of penetration each country can forcibly execute. Given the varying corporate backdrops, resources and ability to extract a uniform set of data, some governments will struggle more than others.

To that end, The European Commission has launched a public consultation. It’s inviting interested parties to comment on the level of public taxation information corporations should volunteer.

With the main Action Plan encompassing even those countries who are unwilling or unable to cooperate, there’ll be few places for illegitimate businesses to hide.

PSC: when does transparency cross the privacy line?

And that leads us perfectly into the next snippet of information, for those closer to home. It seems that whatever ruling the EU Action Plan eventually formulates, the practises within will already make up the British corporate landscape.

From January next year, the information that incorporated UK companies need to make public is set to increase. By April, they must be in a position to share these additional details with Companies House. They, in turn, will make that (some may say sensitive) information public.

It’s the combination of the type of information that companies will have to share with how third parties can use that information that’s rattled the law firm who’ve highlighted the potential privacy issue.

Boodle Hatfield feel that legitimate business owners may have to share hitherto confidential information in order to catch out those hiding behind registered companies for the wrong reasons.

The argument for the defence, which you can hear already, is that if you’re legitimate, why worry about sharing it? But not everyone wants to declare to the world how profitable (or loss-making) their enterprise is.

What’s going to change about the information companies share?

The biggest change in the register, compared to the publicly declared company information already available, is the disclosure of names of controlling interests with a share of 25% or more of registered companies.

Geoffrey Todd, a partner at the law firm, also highlighted the difference in UK an EU legislation. Yes, the EU wants a similar list of beneficiaries. But much more of the information their charter calls for will remain private.

It’s interesting. On one hand, the new government wants the UK to be central to the world’s money markets. But on the other, information the UK Government requires companies registered here to share goes beyond that anywhere else on the globe. Counter-intuitive or pure genius?

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HMRC snubbed by Court of Appeal overturning previous ruling

The Court of Appeal just sent Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs to the woodshed, overturning a previous ruling that categorised a scheme as tax avoidance.

Thst’s right – judges decided against HMRC’s insistence that a scheme designed to save company directors millions of pounds in taxes was legitimate and not an example of tax avoidance or tax evasion. The upper tribunal said that essentially it’s permissible to pay employee bonuses in shares instead of cash in order to reduce their tax liabilities.

This is actually quite a big deal when it comes to how far the taxman can reach in rooting out tax dodgers. The decision sets a precedent as far as what kinds of schemes HMRC can go after and what kinds of activities are considered to rise to the level of artificial and unacceptable amounts of tax avoidance. That’s not my language by the way – as far as I’m concerned, any level of tax avoidance is unacceptable, whether it’s committed by a multinational company or a humble contractor – but that’s how the courts are looking at it.

Now the initial ruling – that the scheme was indeed tax avoidance – had been a major feather in the cap for the tax authority when it worked its way through the courts initially in 2013. Treasury minister David Gauke was positively chuffed to bits at the time, recounting how the ruling was a major victory for HMRC and that it stood as a warning for any other firms that sought to pull the wool over the taxman’s eyes; now, I’m sure Mr Gauke was unavailable for comment as he was busy eating crow at the time.

For what it’s worth, the upper tribunal judges did acknowledge that the result of the scheme was rather unattractive since it did indeed reduce tax liabilities. However, there was no way around the fact that shares were restricted securities and couldn’t be considered when it comes to national insurance or income tax. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you can’t alter the laws as they’re written – and there’s only so much room for interpretation as well.  Maybe next time they shouldn’t be written with these massive loopholes in mind – that might solve the problem of having too many rich bastards slip through the cracks, eh?

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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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Margaret Hodge says accountants to blame for tax avoidance

Chairman of the Commons public accounts committee Margaret Hodge would like to see accountants and tax advisers held responsible for tax avoidance in the UK.

So the tax avoidance industry generates something like £2 billion in unpaid taxes a year or something. At least that’s what Hodge says. Then again she also says she’d like to see lawyers and contractor accountant firms are making vast sums of cash off of the wealthy more or less run out of business. These law firms and accountancy firms are all doing their level best to make as much money as they can by advising the rich to ferret their money overseas, supposedly safe from the grasping hands of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, and Hodge – like many of us – has simply had it.

The best way to nip tax avoidance in the bud, Hodge says, is to not just punish those greedy bastards that put their money into places where the taxman can’t get to them. In fact, she really, truly wants to see anyone who promotes, sells or designs these schemes raked over the hot coals as well.

For what it’s worth, I’m more than leaning towards agreeing with the former Liberal minister. Right now the total tax gap is something close to £34 billion, and that’s a massive amount of cash to not be collecting even though it’s owed to the Government. Some of that missing cash ends up being ferreted away by tax avoidance schemes, others through any number of means, but it’s too big a deficit to make up without going after people who have been skimming off the top for years or even decades.

So what should we do? What can we do, besides trying to close these tax loopholes that we’ve got? Policymakers are reticent to do that because multinationals regularly threaten to pull up tent stakes and leave if the regulatory environment gets too hot for it, yet something has to be done at this point. Honestly, I say we bite the bullet and close these loopholes – and then make overseas tax evasion absolutely 100 per cent illegal – in order to ensure that nobody can take advantage of the system any more or ever again. Sure so some of those multinational deadbeats like Starbucks decide to relocate to a country that has more permissive tax law.

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Global trade unions band together to condemn tax avoidance

A cadre of some of the most powerful trade unions in the world have banded together to take a stand to fight against aggressive tax avoidance.

Trade unions are some pretty powerful entities in their own right. For what it’s worth, these unions have some bloody deep pockets – and some truly massive pension funds as well. In order to avoid getting collared by tax avoidance schemes, these unions have put the word out that they plan to only invest their pension funds into valid investments – and to improve their own tax practices to boot.

The new edicts come down just in time if you ask me, especially considering how it wasn’t so long ago that the Luxembourg secret tax deal scandal broke, revealing how countless asset management companies, pension funds and large multinationals were engaged in some rather dodgy practices. In response more than 40 rather irate trade unions, which included union heavyweight AFL-CIO, demanded that any pension funds for union members be on the up and up and not fall into any tax avoidance or tax evasion loopholes.

To be quite honest there’s already a damning list of public and private funds that were caught with their hand in Luxembourg’s cookie jar. The National Pension Service of Korea and the Public Sector Pension Scheme Board of Canada were named in the documents, as were the asset management arm of BNP and other fund management firms like Schroders, Henderson and Fidelity.

For what it’s worth, I know that individuals that have cash ferreted away in these pension funds have very little say into where their money goes. That’s why it’s so important for these trade unions to dictate terms for their pension funds on behalf of their members, and I for one am all for these tougher restrictions as demanded by unions.

Exposing unions to tax liabilities just because you’re in search of the biggest bang for your buck is not only immoral – it’s bloody illegal. These funds need to pay their taxes accurately and fully in order to provide tax collectors the revenue they need to not go after smaller-scale businesses like contractors and other self-employed individuals, who already bear the brunt of taxation in all too many markets.

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Contractors: don’t be afraid to fight for your rights

If you’re not standing up for yourself if you’ve come under scrutiny from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, you could be missing out on some vindication.

In fact, it turns out that your chances of winning your case against HMRC is actually quite high according to the Adjudicator’s office. In fact, If you make a complaint against the taxman, you have something like a 90 per cent chance of prevailing. That’s some very good news for anyone who feels they might have been unjustly or incorrectly targeted by the tax authority for tax avoidance. Not only that, but you could be in for a bit of compensation as well: more than £100,000 has been paid out by HMRC to taxypayers who were found to have been distressed by initial complaint rejection.

The good news doesn’t stop there. Even if you haven’t been accused of falling under IR35 or some other tax evasion scheme, you should be glad to know that the Adjudicator’s Office has taken issue with the taxman’s complaints handling and has in fact levied a fine of £143,000, citing poor communication with taxpayers and a lack of demonstration of urgency when HMRC staff deal with customer concerns. In other words, it looks like the taxman has been officially found to have been exhibiting exceptionally poor customer service as of late and it’s being called on the carpet for it. This of course thrills me to no end.

But do you know what’s even better? HMRC fully admitted that they’ve been letting the side down. In fact, second permanent secretary and tax assurance commissioner Edward Troup even went on record that HMRC’s been putting a lot of pressure on the Adjudicator’s Office to sort out thee whole mess. Mr Troup even expressed thanks for all the hard work the Adjudicator’s Office has been doing. If nothing else this is absolutely vindicating in that I’ve been saying there have been customer service issues with the tax authority for way too long. Now, with independent verification of my suspicions, I’m not just the lone madman with his knickers on backwards shouting on the street corner any more am I? Listen, all I ever wanted was for the taxman to shape up its act. It looks like I’ll be getting what I’ve been wishing for finally!

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Jersey welcomes new UK tax rules with open arms

The island of Jersey, one of the locales that is often under fire for facilitating tax avoidance for British nationals, is welcoming of new UK tax regulations.

You would think that our little island neighbour, which has earned a bit of a reputation of a tax haven over the years, might be a bit recalcitrant to give up the cash cow that has been high-powered multinationals and British contractors funneling funds into their coffers, but the truth is that Jersey is champing at the bit to get started in co-operating with their counterparts in the UK to prevent tax evasion. In fact, new regulations are going into place that will see the Jersey Financial Services Commission in overseeing a programme that will earmark any clients that might have some involvement in a tax avoidance or tax evasion scheme.

The regulations have teeth, as well, as the JFSC has been empowered to revoke the business license of any Jersey-based financial service company that engages in such a programme. Jersey ministers came forward recently in a joint statement that said supporting the UK’s goals in stamping out tax avoidance are near and dear to their hearts, though they were quick to pass the buck so to speak to the British Government when it came to determining what exactly constitutes lawful financial planning and unlawful tax avoidance.

In other words, Jersey is saying they’ll do whatever they can to make it easy for the UK to go after tax avoiders by handing personal information over, but they’re not about to change their own legislation or regulations. I know it sounds like a bit of a thumb in the eye, but it could be worse – Jersey could have told the UK to jog on and not divulge any information at all, as is their right. Of course playing nice is in the best interests of Jersey – it’s a bit of a no-brainer after all, considering how it’s a bit hard to pick a fight with a world superpower like the UK. Don’t believe me? Well why don’t we go ahead and ask how the Argentinians enjoyed it a few decades ago.

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HMRC reveals employment intermediaries dropbox plans

According to new details unearthed by APSCo, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has created an email address for the express purpose of employment intermediaries.

More specifically, HMRC’s new email will be for anyone to chime in with news of models being promoted as alternatives to the new employment intermediaries legislation changes. This is a case of ‘about time’ for many concerned Brits, as the furore over the creation of an email address to report cases of false employment has been raging for quite some time now. 

As with anything, if you create a new way to do something there will be someone out there that will try to find ways around not having to do it. This has led to the creation of many new so-called ‘hybrid’ models to circumvent the legislation – and while there’s obviously many different ways to skin a cat not all of them involve deliberate avoidance of the law. Still, if there’s any doubt, HMRC wants to know about it so these hybrid schemes can be investigated and eliminated if they’re relying upon questionable methods.

So here’s the new email address, as discovered by APSCo: it’s employment.intermediaries@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. Now, don’t go ahead and use this email for tax evasion or tax avoidance, though – while the taxman will obviously appreciate your diligence in reporting people or companies not paying their fair share, there are other hotlines you can use instead.

Now, is this hotline a good idea? I would think so. There’s been a bit of a row over the new employment intermediaries legislation with plenty of back and forth but in essence it’s important for HMRC to sift out which intermediaries are being used legitimately and which are just being created and operated in an effort to obfuscate the tax burden of large firms and contractors alike. Will the new rules be successful? If you ask me, I’m cautiously optimistic but I won’t really commit to any concrete answer. That’s just because I’m hedging my bets here so I can say ‘I told you so’ when things go pear-shaped later – or even if they don’t!

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Vodafone tax avoidance row hots up with demonstrations

Anti tax-avoidance protesters have begun to hold demonstrations outside UK Vodafone shops to protest the telecoms giant’s decision to not pay corporation tax.

Vodafone has been in the thick of it since last week when it brazenly declared that it can’t be arsed to pay its corporate tax amidst claims that its UK-based profits were so minuscule so to as be completely irrelevant. Of course it was a bit of a cheeky move for Vodafone to make that decision instead of British tax authorities to do so – you know, the blokes who actually are in charge of decisions like that – and as a result Vodafone has begun to attract the attention of protest groups.

A total of some 10 Vodafone shops were targeted by a group known as UK Uncut, an organisation that’s had it with large multinationals getting around their tax responsibilities by legal loopholes and outright tax evasion tactics. Two of the Vodafone stores actually were closed briefly by the protests, but UK Uncut protesters reported that the demonstrations were positive and good natured for the most part – or at least as good natured as tax avoidance protests can possibly be.

Vodafone of course has a different take on the matter, calling the protests unnecessary and wrong-headed. Representatives from the firm lamented how UK Uncut wasn’t interested in hearing its side of the story, but I don’t really think protesters wouldn’t be interested in the least in whatever Vodafone has to say. I mean to be honest I’m not all that interested either, considering how Vodafone literally made billions last year. Did you know that they sold off their stake in US telecoms giant Verizon for shedloads of cash? But apparently the company isn’t turning a profit.

Honestly I have to call bollocks on that, for what it’s worth. Do you really think that your public relations spin department is going to convince anyone about how you’re not rolling around in mountains of dosh, Vodafone? You can’t possibly be serious, can you? If you ask me you should just bite the bullet and shell out some of those profits to keep the tax avoidance people off your back. They can make your life rather miserable, especially if you let the protests to grow in reach and popularity.

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Tax evasion and tax avoidance: not-so victimless crimes

Think tax evasion and tax avoidance harm no one? Well you’d be dead wrong if you believe the recent words of a charity spokesman.

At a recent hearing of the Finance Committee dealing with the financial implications of Scotland’s independence referendum, representatives from both Inclusion Scotland and the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland gave evidence, declaring that the impact of tax avoidance and tax evasion literally ‘blighted’ the life chances of children. Life expectancy rates for children growing up in poverty are reduced by two decades because there aren’t enough taxpayer-funded benefit programmes to help these children claw their way up out of poverty, said Inclusion Scotland’s Bill Scott – and that some of the worst situations are when a child is either born with a disability or becomes disabled at a young age, leaving parents in dire financial straits and in many instances unable to care for the child properly.

Now I obviously don’t have to point this out to anyone reading this but he has a point – tax avoiders essentially prevent benefits from being funded fully, resulting in massive cuts that leave wide swathes of at-risk Brits in terrible situations just when they need it most. It’s one of the biggest reasons why, even though I may whinge about how contractors and freelancers seem to be over-targeted by anti-tax avoidance measures, I realise that the Government needs taxpayer money in order to provide for the less fortunate.

Of course this doesn’t change the fact that you could end up with shedloads more cash in Treasury coffers – and a damn sight fewer children being brought up in poverty – if the Government would stop being afraid of big-name multinational companies when it comes to going after their high-profile tax avoidance schemes. If I have to read one more article about how some massive company like Starbucks, Amazon or Google raked in billions in revenue and just shunted them overseas to avoid paying corporation tax in the UK like they should be I’ll probably go stark raving mad. The only people who seem to enjoy the idea of starving children are the accountants working for these multinationals, apparently; it’s these fine upstanding bastards that find all the legal loopholes required for routing their company’s cash through Luxembourg or other similar tax shelters.

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