IT’S TOO CLOSE TO CALL as the first day draws to a close on Accountancy Age‘s first online debate.
At the time of writing, both protagonists have garnered 50% of the vote.
The debate is looking at the heart of the matter: What is tax avoidance, and where is the line drawn between legitimate tax planning and unreasonable, unfair strategies that starve the government’s coffers?
Tax Justice Network founder Richard Murphy stoutly defended the motion that “tax avoidance is an unacceptable exploitation of the tax system”, while BDO tax partner Stephen Herring ably argued the situation is more nuanced than that.
Murphy suggested tax avoidance is “about exploiting loopholes within and between laws in the UK and elsewhere to get a benefit parliament did not intend”, while Herring’s opening gambit held that “it is a more achievable task to define what is abusive than to define what amounts to tax avoidance in contrast to acceptable tax planning”.
As expected, there was lively discussion of the issues, with one reader pointing out that “the law defines what is illegal. If the law doesn’t define something as illegal, it is legal. That’s the way common law in the UK works.” Meanwhile, another noted the moral element of the debate is “meaningless without an objective test”.
The debate runs until Friday 18 January. The whole debate will remain archived on the site to view. Click here to visit the debate website.
We discuss the Accountancy Age Top 50+50 supported by Sage; growth at Menzies; and the provision of value-added services
Companies reported increased levels of scrutiny over their tax planning strategies last year as fewer FDs understand what HMRC considers as tax avoidance, according to HMRC’s latest large business survey
Tax evaders are set to face tough new sanctions under plans detailed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) today
HMRC has outlined a change in VAT policy to the treatment of dwellings that have been formed from either the construction of new buildings, or from the conversion of non-residential buildings