TaxCorporate TaxThere’s no such thing as a right answer

There's no such thing as a right answer

How to give the right answer, lessons from the coalface

THE CBI launched a robust defence of the amount of tax that business pays in the UK with a document entitled “Tax and British Business: Making the case”, which seeks to shed light on some of the mysteries of evasion, abuse and avoidance for the benefit of the public at large.

Director-General John Cridland said, “Activist groups raise the perfectly legitimate question of whether business pays its fair share of tax. It’s a good question. But it’s not an easy answer to give. I am, though, confident that the large majority of business in this country pays the right amount of tax.”

An interesting distinction between “right” and “fair” – but what’s this! On page 13 of that same document it says very clearly, “There is no such thing as the right amount of tax”. Can the DG explain?

Well, you don’t get to be the head of the CBI by being wrong-footed by something like that.

No, sir. “The distinction I draw is a micro/macro distinction,” he said, quick as a flash, explaining that at the micro level, for any one company, “it’s very difficult for anyone to say in advance what the right rate of tax is.” But at the macro level, for UK plc overall, “There is no compelling evidence that the total tax take from UK business is somehow lightweight compared to other economies.”

And with one bound he was free.

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