Taking Stock - Alarming confusion over tax avoision.
The line between tax avoidance and tax evasion has always been a very fine one, but one that is of vital importance to tax advisers wishing to stay on the right side of the law. Confusion surrounding the issue was aptly demonstrated when one of the speakers at a Chartered Institute of Taxation debate last week accidentally mixed the two words and coined the phrase – tax ‘avoision’. This was the cause of much hilarity, but tax advisers should perhaps take note of who made the comments – none other than Steve Matheson, deputy chairman of the Inland Revenue. Rather more alarmingly, he went on to expound that the only real difference between avoidance and evasion was ‘the thickness of a prison wall’. Given these alarming possibilities, has Mr Matheson created a new word for worried tax advisers that will become common parlance by the time of next year’s CIoT debate?