Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tax cheats don't like criticism

So, it turns out that the tax cheats don't like being called on their crimes:

The bosses of some of Britain's largest multinational corporations have urged David Cameron to stop moralising and rein in his rhetoric on tax avoidance ahead of a G8 summit next month.

Chief executives of companies such as Burberry, Tesco, Vodafone, BAE Systems, Prudential and GSK were keen to take a final opportunity to lobby the prime minister in advance of the meeting of political leaders in Northern Ireland.

Cameron has pledged to use Britain's G8 presidency to tackle aggressive tax avoidance by multinationals, but is also keen to heed the counsel of his business advisory group, which he met with on Monday.

Firstly, this shows that the strategy of naming and shaming tax cheats is working - it has made people aware of the problem, and it has encouraged them to do something about it. Just as no-one likes buying from a company which kills a thousand of its workers due to shoddy construction, no-one likes buying from a tax-cheat. Companies who trade on their reputation will need to be squeaky clean on the tax front, and make sure they are not using aggressive evasion tactics.

But secondly, it speaks volumes about the sociopathic character of major corporate executives that they think the response to this is to stop politicians talking about it rather than clean up their own act. These companies have no intention of paying their fair share of taxes - hell, in some cases their profitability depends on them not doing so. Which means we need government to force them. The question is whether government works for us, or the tax-cheats.