Showing posts with label Tax Avoidance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tax Avoidance. Show all posts

Tuesday, 2 January 2018


Happy New Year!

Made a New Year resolution yet? Money tight after an expensive Christmas? Well now is the time to resolve to live a bit more frugally in future and preserve just a few more resources to help your pocket and the planet! Here are a few tips from your friendly retired accountant!

When you go shopping make two lists. On the first list put everything you need and on the second list put everything you want. Then throw the second list away!

Go through your "needs" list and decide whether you really need them. For instance, butter in the UK has doubled in price in the last 18 months. Even English butter, so the exchange rate is no excuse. It's time we, as consumers, started wielding our power NOT to consume. So strike things you don't really need from your list or find a cheaper alternative.

Eaten far too much chocolate over Christmas and the kids drunk too many fizzy drinks? The UK government's latest propaganda campaign to distract you from their appalling cock ups is that children should not have sugary snacks of more than 100 calories. Healthy eating is in fact cheaper than unhealthy eating, which you will know if you have ever compared the price of an apple to a chocolate bar.

It's also cheaper to be a vegetarian than an omnivore....

Next: don't buy brands. I know you always buy that coffee made by a multinational company that has just moved its HQ to a tax haven overseas, but do you need to? If you go to a store they will probably have just as good a product marketed under their own brand. For instance, you can get 40 one cup tea bags from Tesco for just 25p (and the bag is not plastic and so therefore biodegradable).

Finally, and by no means least, don't buy the fudge being sold to you by the terrible Tories. Get out of the house and protest at the privatisation of the NHS, the fracking of our countryside or the failure to protect our population from floods and fires. In particular, whether you are in favour of Brexit or in favour of Remain, please get off your backside and protest about the fudge being peddled by May and Co. You know that policy of being in the single market (to ensure no hard border in Ireland) and out of it (as promised by Brexit) at the same time is totally impossible. We either leave the EU entirely or we Remain in the EU: there are no other viable alternatives!

The sooner we get this ridiculous minority Tory Government out of office, the better it will be for all us. So start THE revolution now, forget the shopping and get down to the barricades!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Proposals for Tax Reform after Brexit: VAT

This is the first of a series of proposals from me, to enhance the UK after Brexit. It is NOT Green Party policy, but I would like it to be!
Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UK is a tax on spending with numerous exceptions, which makes it a complicated system.
There is a strong argument for reform of VAT after Brexit, in particular in relation to imports. Currently VAT is charged on some, but by no means on all, imports. However, the VAT charged on imports can be set off against VAT charged on subsequent sales, i.e. it is fully recoverable if you are VAT registered.
After leaving the single market, the UK will be free from EU VAT regulations. My proposal consists of three stages:
1. Reduce the VAT rate to 15% from the current high level of 20%, which would reduce the cost of all purchases, both imported AND UK produced, by about 4%.
2. Put VAT on all imports, most importantly on overseas service and management charges, which are used by offshore companies to avoid UK corporate taxes. VAT would also be imposed on all food imports, including the over-pricing of commodities by multi-nationals, which is also used to avoid taxation, and on meat. This would be a disincentive to the long distance transfer of foodstuffs (and animals)and encourage more local production, upon which VAT would not be charged. It is also likely to reduce meat consumption, in favour of locally produced vegetables.
3. Stop VAT on imports being recoverable. This would undoubtedly increase the cost of imports, but it is likely that:
(a) it would be an incentive to produce more goods and services locally in the UK and reduce the record levels of imports, now running at £582bn a year;
(b) it would be allowable as a business expense, thus being partially mitigated for importers by a reduced corporation tax bill (if they pay their taxes);
(c) competition would encourage importers not to pass on all of the extra costs to their customers, to avoid being priced out of the market;
(d) the extra cost to consumers for imports would encourage people to prefer locally sourced goods and services;
(e) the extra cost to consumers would be more than mitigated by the overall reduction in VAT on ALL their purchases, both imports and locally sourced;
(f) be a major disincentive for tax avoidance using charging for "fictitious" overseas services, such as management costs or over-priced commodities.
(g) it would, at current rates, bring in an additional £80bn+ in revenue to the UK treasury, which could be used to improve the NHS and social care;
(h) it is likely to reduce consumption overall, as part of a "de-growth" economic strategy, which was recommended for economically developed countries,after the 2013 climate change talks in Warsaw.
Such a change would challenge EU rules and would probably flout World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules as well. But it would be in line with the Green Leaves proposal to shun all free trade agreements, like TTIP and CETA.
However, it is also likely that retaliatory action might be taken by other countries, in the form of tariffs on UK exports, but as imports to the UK outweigh exports from the UK, this is something that can be negotiated favourably on a bilateral basis with each country or trading bloc, particularly the EU, whose exports to the UK are already £70bn more than the imports from the UK.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Here is the Evidence that the UK WILL be better off after BREXIT

Over the last few weeks we have heard a cacophony of vested interests telling us that it was not in THEIR best interests for the UK to leave the EU. From the US President and US treasury, the IMF, the Bank of England and George Osbourne's minions, there has been an orchestrated message of dire warnings about perceived threats to the personal wealth of every man, woman and child in the UK.

But all of these warnings have been predicated on one hypothesis: that if the UK leave the EU, the UK's trade will reduce. This is not a fact, it is a forecast, a prediction, basically a guess. And lo and behold, what is the outcome of this hypothetical scenario? Why we all get poorer.

A reasonable hypothesis you might think, but is it? It is based on us losing, as we are repeated told, an export market of 500 million people. That, of course, is a lie. Nearly 66 million of that 500 million are in the UK market, so we are actually talking about are exports to a market of 430 million people. What the hypothetical models do not take account of is the dynamic between the UK market of 66 million and the other 430 million in the EU.

So let us look at that dynamic: something the EU does not do, because it is only concerned with the whole market, not with the individual members, and least of all individual people like you and me. That is why the EU forces poverty and unemployment on vast swathes of the EU, from Greece to Portugal, young people in particular are suffering from this emphasis on the EU market as a whole, not the wealth of individual countries.

When we joined the EU, in the days of Ted Heath and Harold Wilson, the most important UK national statistic was the Balance of Payments. The difference between what we, the UK, as a nation export in goods and services and what we import. Indeed for many of the post war years, as we struggled to pay off the biggest debts of any nation after WW2 (any nation that actually paid its debts that is), we had import controls, because as a nation, we decided that we could not afford imports.

You rarely hear of the balance of payments these days. Yes, it was mentioned by the Bank of England as the Financial Policy Committee (29/3/16) dutifully trotted out its carefully worded support for REMAIN and the interests of international bankers. But only as a footnote: it merely said it had "concerns" about the UK's balance of payments deficit(1).

Yes, deficit. Because ever since we joined the Common Market, we have had a deficit with the rest of the EU. And as the EU has got bigger and bigger, so too has our deficit with the rest of the EU.

So here's the rub. Here is the evidence that yes, we would be better off if we LEAVE the EU.

In the last three years alone (2013-2015), according to the UK Office of National Statistics(2) , we have had a balance of payments deficit with the rest of the world of £267 billion. Within that, our trade deficit with the rest of the EU has been a staggering £303 billion. Yes, we actually had a modest SURPLUS of trade with the rest of the world outside the EU, of £36 billion.

And that deficit with the rest of the EU is going up, from £89 billion in 2013 to £107 billion in 2015. If we REMAIN, and the status quo does not change, then over the next ten years, based on these figures, we will have a net deficit with the rest of the EU of over ONE TRILLION POUNDS (£1,000 billion).

So, how will we pay for this trillion pound spending spree? Well, the Bank of England told us. As a nation, there are only two ways to pay for this massive trade deficit. Either by flogging off our capital, or, by increasing our debt. Well, our national assets have gone to pay for the profligacy of the past. Margaret Thatcher started it by selling off our North Sea Oil too cheaply, such that last year whilst Shell paid Norway over $4billion, the UK actually paid Shell $123 million in tax rebates(3). Since then the railways, water, utilities and many other public and private assets have been sold and are now owned by overseas, particularly EU interests. The profits from which are, no doubt, squirreled away in Luxembourg tax avoidance schemes set up under the now EU Commission president, Jean Claude Juncker, when he was president of Luxembourg (free the "LuxLeaks" whistle blowers now under arrest in Luxembourg!)

So, as the BoE pointed out, the only way to pay for the £trillion pound balance of payments deficit with the EU expected over the next ten years is by debt. A debt that is frankly, unsustainable.

Yes, if the UK remain in the EU, within ten years the UK will be bankrupt.

So, what is the Brexit alternative? Well one alternative is to stop importing this stuff we don't need and start making ourselves the stuff we do need. We could stop importing quite so much and invest in our own economy instead; in steel, manufacturing, the NHS, local farming etc.. We can say good riddance to all these trade deals like TTIP whose primary purpose is to allow multi-nationals free rein to satisfy their greed for a privatised NHS, schools and other public works.

Another alternative is to stop worshiping consumerism and embrace conservation. We have the opportunity to be world leaders in sensible technology like renewable energy and home insulation.

Investing in the UK will cost us far less than the Trillion pounds the UK will have to find in the next ten years to feed our addiction to EU imports. That is why the world's vested interests are united in spending so much time and money on persuading us that our addiction to EU imports must continue, no matter what the cost to the British people. That Trillion pounds goes into the coffers of those same vested interests and further increases the servitude of debt into which every UK citizen is daily encouraged to fall.

The reality is that, after BREXIT, we will continue to trade with the EU, but on our terms, not theirs. The EU will still want its Scotch and other UK products, but more importantly, the EU cannot afford to lose all of that Trillion Pound bonanza it is expecting over the next ten years. The EU will be falling over itself to strike a trade deal with the UK, because it cannot afford to lose its largest export market. We just need to have faith in ourselves, in our country and have the courage to say NO to membership of the EU and stand on our own feet again.

(1) point 11
(2) & previous periods

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Virgin on the Ridiculous!

I recently attended a patients' forum put on by the Richmondshire, Hambleton and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (RHWCCG), the very name of which indicates just how cumbersome this Tory monster has become.

The main aim of the forum appeared to be to get patients to volunteer to do the jobs previously done by paid NHS staff.

One of the CCGs other admissions was that the NHS budget was going to have to stretch to cover social care as well, something not publicised by the Con Dems when they foisted this unlooked for change in the NHS upon us. A NHS re-organisation was expressly excluded from the manifestos of both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, so watch out for further nasty volte-faces if, (God forbid) we get another right wing coalition after the election. For me, this betrayal of Lib Dem promises on the NHS was probably worse than their notorious lie about abolishing tuition fees.

RHWCCG also announced that they had awarded Virgin Care a multi-million pound contract to supply Whitby Out of Hours and Community Care. This was after an 18 month procurement process that did not include any NHS run bid, but did cost hundreds of thousands of pounds (including costly legal advice). As part of their justification, the RHWCCG spokesperson said that Virgin had told the CCG that they would not make a profit in the first two years. Not surprising as Virgin Care appear to be avoiding tax by taking their profits offshore!

You may have read about this in the recent story in the Guardian newspaper (, which detailed the tax arrangements of Virgin Care.

According to this article and a recent report from Unite the Union, Virgin care has a complicated structure of 13 intermediate holding companies between Virgin Care Limited and its ultimate parent company, Virgin Group Holdings Limited.

The company’s main offshore links are with the British Virgin Islands where its ultimate parent company is based. The way in which Virgin is structured, with multiple holding companies in locations that provide a high level of secrecy, means that it is very hard to get a clear view of the group’s finances.

These structures are wholly inappropriate for a company in receipt of hundreds of millions of pounds worth of public sector contracts in the National Health Service. Virgin Care Limited should urgently reform its corporate structures and tax arrangements or negotiate the speedy return of its NHS contract back to the RHWCCG.

RHWCCG should itself revisit any contracts with private companies indulging in tax avoidance measures. It should also look more closely at Virgin Care's chequered history.

In 2012 a NHS watchdog accused a Virgin Care urgent care centre of putting patients' health at risk by using receptionists with minimal medical training to assess how unwell arrivals were. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) report criticised the operation of the urgent care centre at Croydon hospital in south London, which was run by Virgin Care.

If you agree that NHS contracts should not go to tax dodgers, then please sign a petition to tell Virgin Care to pay their taxes and protest against the continuing privatisation of the NHS!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Politicians support Tax Avoidance

Yet again we have seen crocodile tears about opposing tax avoidance. The chancellor George Osbourne, whilst casually throwing an additional one million people onto the dole, claimed he would crack down on tax avoidance. But he continues to avoid taxing the real culprits of the recession and increase in public debt.

Mr Osborne, himself apparently supported by a £4m offshore trust, a form of legal tax avoidance, has apparently allowed Vodafone to write off outstanding tax bill of £6bn. According to Johann Hari in the Independent ( bankers have just awarded themselves £7bn in bonuses for their part in causing the recession.

Nor are Labour politicians free from blame. As Mark Thomas pointed out last year (see him on You Tube) Government buildings sold off under PFI are paying rent to offshore companies paying no tax. These include the Treasury building where George Osborne hatched his plans. It also includes Home Office buildings, hospitals and even the Albert Bridge House tax office. So the HMRC tax collectors, who are paid bonuses for the tax demands they send out (whether or not they are correct), are paying rent to tax avoiders.

This Con Dem budget will push the country back into recession. The job losses will continue into the private sector as sub-contractors and temporary staff are the first to be laid off by local government and the NHS. The overall loss of tax and additional unemployment benefit will cost more than the savings made and I predict that the public deficit will go up, not down, in the next 4 years. Surely it would be so much better to tax the tax avoiders and use the money to invest in new Green jobs, as the Green Party suggested at the general election?