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Lawyers back UKuncut on tax avoidance


4:09 pm - May 8th 2011

by Newswire    


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Britain could slash its £30bn a year corporate tax avoidance industry in one swoop – and raise more money from higher tax revenues – if it switched to a principles-based approach rather than the present one of “legal certainty”, according to the Queen’s lawyers.

Robert Field, the head of tax at Farrer & Co, lawyers to the Royal Family, said last week: “Rather than tinkering with the present system of specific rules which leads to companies looking for loopholes to avoid tax, there are grounds for arguing that the UK could generate billions more by introducing a principle-based approach to the rule-book.”

Farrer believes the subject is so important that it is hosting a debate in London on 19 May which will be attended by some of the country’s top tax experts, including David Hartnett, the head of HM Revenue & Customs, as well as bankers and accountants.

Mr Field said: “I don’t think there has ever been a tax event like it. Everybody wants to come. Most people accept that we need change if taxing companies is to be made fairer. There is clearly a problem with corporate tax avoidance and one which we have seen has taken on a moral dilemma with lobbying groups like UK Uuncut taking a stand”.

…more at The Independent

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Reader comments


As far as I can tell, this is a guy expressing an opinion. Why is it now the opinion of the entire law firm of which he is a department head?

Awfully misleading to say “Royal lawyers” when it’s actually just, er, a bloke who happens to work for the “Royal lawyers”, no?

A simplified tax code would be a very good thing, as it would be vastly cheaper to administrate.

However, to claim that a simplified tax code would lead to more tax revenues is laughably naive.

Companies are wise enough to understand the difference between a headline and a real tax rate, and if you raise the real rate – regardless of the headline rate – then they will respond appropriately.

That is a simple fact that any economist and most sensible politicians fully understand and they design the tax code to ensure that the real rate is lower than the headline to ensure that businesses see the UK as a desirable place to be based.

Please do simplify the tax code, but understand that it will also lead to a reduction in the headline rate – not more tax being raised.

The benefit though would be that the running costs at HM Treasury would be lower and they can sack lots of unnecessary staff and businesses could cull their accountancy and legal staff.

Who would have thought LibCon would be supporting a measure that results in redundancies and higher unemployment 😉

3. Margin4error

Bastard

are you suggesting a legal firm would arrange an event to support an agenda it opposes, and that its head of tax would speak out of turn on tax matters?

Are you nuts?

What agenda? He’s plugging a debate, you nitwit. The whole point is to get people from both sides in order to convince people. There is no agenda. Fucking hell, the readers of this blog can be simpering morons at times.

“Awfully misleading to say “Royal lawyers” when it’s actually just, er, a bloke who happens to work for the “Royal lawyers”, no?”

Priceless. The troll that calls himself ‘bastard’ lectures us about being misleading.

The trolls really don’t do irony do they?

6. Margin4error

Bastard

OK – you may not know much about politics – or about law firms. So I apologise.

But here’s a couple of lessons for you.

1 – Senior figures within a law firm don’t express opinions on legal matters without license to do so from the firm.

2 – no one – involved with any political agenda – ever arranges a debate on their own time to find out about the subject. They have an agenda and arrange a debate to further that agenda. (In this case that agenda is an opinion that we could shift to a principle based system for tax law)

Interestingly though

I’ve not asked you why you much care whether the law firm believes in a principle based system.

Why?

“OK – you may not know much about politics – or about law firms.”

Probably a bit more than you might expect, dear.

“1 – Senior figures within a law firm don’t express opinions on legal matters without license to do so from the firm.”

He’s not being billed to do so. He is literally doing promotional work. Thassit. He’s a partner, for fuck’s sake, he’s not some little trainee doing what he’s told.

“2 – no one – involved with any political agenda – ever arranges a debate on their own time to find out about the subject. They have an agenda and arrange a debate to further that agenda. (In this case that agenda is an opinion that we could shift to a principle based system for tax law)”

Really? Because the actual motion is “Clear and unambiguous tax law is an invitation to raid the public purse”, which would suggest that the partner we’re talking about is expressing his private view, no?

“I’ve not asked you why you much care whether the law firm believes in a principle based system.”

I don’t, particularly. They and their partners can think whatever they want. I care about blatant misinformation, though I’m more than happy to pin it on lazy journalism on behalf of the Indie and lazy churning from whichever runt reprocessed it for Libcon rather than intentional bias.

8. Margin4error

Bastard

A low down lacky having an opinion is hardly intetresting. A partner is. We are not talking about a view expressed over dinner with friends. We are talking about a partner expressing an opinion publicly on behalf of his firm to promote an event that serves to make that same case.

And are you suggesting that title for their motion some how makes the alternative case to his view? Surely it is pretty clear that they are using it to challenge the status quo and generate interest in a shift in tax law.

Frankly, for them to be doing anything else would be a rather odd waste of time and money for them.

I’m surprised a private law firm has taken up this particular cause. Not because many in the tax sector disagree with it, but because there is little money in it at present.

It would be interesting to see who they have been discussing principle based tax law with in westminster.

9. Margin4error

Also – it seems an odd passtime – wandering onto the world’s millions of blogs to criticise every case of what you deem to be poorly reported information.

As a regular reader of blogs of all political persuasions – I won’t pretend to wast my time worrying much pointing out every possible ambiguous title.

10. Luis Enrique

would “principle based tax law” involve more or less work for lawyers?

11. diogenes

Luis –

I remember when the UK had “principle-based” accounting standards. There was no shortage of lawyers running around drumming up fees to explain how to get round the principles. The answer to your question is that any intervention by lawyers into a debate will result in more work for lawyers.

Here we have 1 lawyer talking about this priniciple and the headline informs us that lawyers in the plural are behind this issue. This could be considered misleading.

would “principle based tax law” involve more or less work for lawyers?

Less routine, low-rate compliance work. More bespoke, high-rate contentious advice and litigation. Trebles all round!

Senior figures within a law firm don’t express opinions on legal matters without license to do so from the firm.

I’m not quite sure what this is supposed to mean. Partners in a law firm are the firm. And ‘expressing opinions on legal matters’ is pretty much a job description for a lawyer. But in any event, you’ve all misunderstood this. Read what the Farrers chap says:

“Rather than tinkering with the present system of specific rules which leads to companies looking for loopholes to avoid tax, there are grounds for arguing that the UK could generate billions more by introducing a principle-based approach to the rule-book.”

Farrers are arranging a conference to discuss this, and are inviting lots of the most prominent people in the field, accountants and chief counsels at large firms and so on. That’s either because they agree with Sunny so much that they just need to get the word out. Another is that this is marketing tax law services to clients. I know where my money is.

Luis,

would “principle based tax law” involve more or less work for lawyers?

ISTM that,

more to argue about = more work for lawyers


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