UK Uncut’s taxing truth
“Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.”
~ Robert Heinlein
Screw you, Starbucks; we won!
Or, sort of. Unfortunately, if you are an employee of Starbucks you actually lose. Sick pay, paid lunch breaks, and maternity leave have all been cut to meet tax demands*. So thanks, UK Uncut, I’m sure there are thousands of people out there waiting to slap you on the back for a job poorly done.
I know many will say that this is all Starbucks’ fault and, in fairness, you have a point. Who would have thought that a company willing to avoid paying tax would go out of their way to, well …avoid paying tax? Have we not yet learned that all that stockholders care about is profit? It strikes me as incredibly naive to have thought that company executives were just going to hand over a ton of cash and say “I would’a gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those pesky, meddlesome activists.” Congratulations UK Uncut, you have shown government-levels of incompetence, and screwed over some hardworking employees to boot.
Please don’t get confused though. Even if you don’t work for Starbucks you still don’t win. I can see why people may think that they might. Afterall, if the treasury has more money than we can see, then less cuts all around! Unfortunately this never seems to be the case. In 2010, the HMRC reported that they failed to collect £42 billion and that this was 9% of total tax for that year. Using the power of math we know that the total amount of tax that our government received that year was £424 billion, yet over the last few years we have seen some of the most brutal cuts with absolutely no sign of improvement. Are we seriously expecting a paltry few hundred million to change anything?
To explain my position I must make an important distinction. There is a big difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion; one that mainstream media seems intent on blurring as much as it can. For a start, tax evasion is an illegal practice and no one can deny that profiting from illegal practices is immoral and wrong. Tax avoidance, however, is perfectly legal and the duty of any company head to their stockholders. Tax evasion requires the use of criminal practices to avoid paying tax, whereas tax avoidance is seeking to minimise your tax bill through legal practices. Quite frankly, it matters not if some politicians decry tax avoidance as immoral. They are paid through our taxes (in more ways than just a salary) and so are a biased party on the subject. Besides, you try and tell me that those crafty bastards don’t use tax avoidance methods to reduce the amount of tax they pay.
I deplore Starbucks’ actions in caving to UK Uncut and giving more money to our government. The taxes George Osborne so greedily collects are spunked up a wall made of quangos, fake charities, and ludicrous public health concerns. Of course, we are talking about what is left over once we have handed large chunks of cash to the EU, Greece, and African dictators in the form of ‘aid’. Granted, there are millions of impoverished people in India, but that doesn’t stop them from having a fucking space programme. It is time we stop bleeding the poor of this nation to feed other nations’ increasing needs. These are our earnings, our resources, our labour; it’s about time we feel the benefit of it.
The way to go about achieving this, however, is not in the way that UK Uncut demands. They are vindictive, jealous bastards who, instead of trying to change the way our tax money is spent, merely point a finger at the nearest corporation and moan about how large corporations have a lot more money. They are not interested in the billions of your pounds feeding green energy initiatives that don’t work. UK Uncut wants tax avoidance to be made illegal and the general public support this because they think they are getting one over on the rich. If they succeed, you can say goodbye to tax avoidance, which is a bad thing because tax avoidance is one of the best forms of protest we have.
Let’s say you are a smoker. You pay duty tax through the nose on every pack of cigarettes you buy. Some of this tax money winds up in the pocket of ASH, a ‘charity’ that receives more money from government than it does from donations or fundraising. You violently disagree with how ASH spends its time and your money dehumanising you and taking away your rights. What can you do? Well, go out to your garden and grow your own tobacco leaves. Ta-da, you just legally avoided paying tax.
It doesn’t just work for issues of moral outrage though. Arthur Betz Laffer is an American economist who is best known for The Laffer Curve. This shows the relationship between tax rates and tax revenue collected by governments. It shows that, as taxes increase from low levels, tax revenue collected by the government also increases. It also shows that tax rates increasing after a certain point would cause people to seek alternatives, thereby reducing tax revenue.
We don’t need Starbucks’ money to fix our country, we need for the stupid bastards in charge to start spending what they have correctly. The only way we will see our money used to our benefit is by starving the state of its lifeblood. Do whatever you can to avoid paying tax. If you are self-employed there are guides all over the web that will help you keep as much of your earnings as you can. If you have had this option taken from you because you are on PAYE, avoid other taxes by making your own ale or growing your own tobacco. Let’s go back to the barter system and cut a hefty chunk out of income tax. We have the power, we have just forgotten how to use it.
*A nice bit of hypocritical journalism from our friends at The Guardian.
Feature image credited to Getty Images
Other images credited to Shutterstock