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Wednesday 12 December 2012 Letters
A taxing obsession
A distraction from the real issues?

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Letters responding to: Taxation: dodging the real issues, by Tim Black

Black is right, of course, that the real issue is that the economy is stagnating and nobody in politics has any idea what to do about it. Part of the problem is that there is an expectation that politicians can somehow engineer growth, when most of the time the best they can do is to avoid placing obstacles in its way. This is where former Lib Dem minister Huhne and his innumerate successor Ed Davey come in. While Huhne knew that nine plus three made 12, Davey has failed to do any coherent arithmetic on the relative costs and benefits of competing sources of energy, so is imposing cost disadvantages on UK businesses, especially energy-intensive manufacturers, that render us uncompetitive in world markets and so stifle growth. Remove subsidies on so-called sustainable energy, let shale gas do the real work on achieving energy independence and at the same time you can generate export-led economic growth and cut government spending as a percentage of GDP.

I would take issue with the legality of Jimmy Carr and Starbucks’ tax ‘avoidance’, though. In each case their rationale for not paying tax is based on a lie. In Carr’s case the idea that he would give his money away to a vehicle, they would lend it back to him and then forget to ask for it back; and in Starbucks’ case, paying a huge fee to a co-owned company for a fictional benefit. I call both scenarios fraudulent and a more competent HMRC could and should have dealt with them appropriately.

David Shipley, UK



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