The thing that has surprised me and depressed me most about tax over the last
three years has been the power of the tax lobby.
By that I mean the voices arguing, persistently and without reflection, that
corporate tax should be lowered or that some new tax applied to wealthy
individuals should be watered down or dropped.
Of course the tax industry is hugely diverse, with a variety of opinions, but
the loudest voice always seems to speak on behalf of the wealthy and the
Perhaps I’m being naïve to expect anything else, but shouldn’t tax advisers
have some greater sense of responsibility to the tax system, or to society as a
This is, I know, the kind of argument that makes many advisers turn puce with
rage, but they should realise that the monotone demands of the CBI, the
Institute of Directors and even the accountancy institutes create as much
cynicism and ill-feeling.
I think in some cases this is caused by the media. The CBI’s views are
nowhere near as shallow and one-dimensional as the papers would sometimes have
And, in part, tax stories rarely have much balance because HM Revenue &
Customs finds it much harder than the private sector to get its point across.
The problem, essentially, is that the tax industry is all too often on the
wrong side of the argument.
Non-doms? A good thing. Corporate tax? Should be lowered. Tax havens? A stony
Of course, there are arguments to be made for all of those points, but not
all of the time and everywhere you look.
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