Readers questions answered (#ff @MurphyRichards because he’s awesome)

I have been receiving a lot of emails this week with various questions, I will try to answer some of them here.

Murphy, I’m a big fan and love your blog. Is it illegal to do something immoral? D Gauke, London

The answer is yes.

If you do something that is immoral and illegal, it is illegal by virtue of the fact that it is illegal. However, if you do something immoral but legal, it is illegal by virtue of constituting cheating.

You would expect something immoral to be illegal. The fact that it is not is just a failure of Parliament to write down what it clearly intended. By exploiting the loophole that Parliament omitted to write down what it intended, you have committed the criminal offence of cheating.

I think you will find this legal analysis will stand up in a court.*

What distinguishes Justice for Taxes from its inferior cousin tax justice? M Meacher, London

Justice for Taxes is the original and best brand of justice of a tax nature.

“Tax justice” implies vigilantism imposed through the tax system, whereas “Justice for Taxes” expresses a desire to have taxes recognised as a special form of returning ownership of property to the state.

Also, I believe that the tax justice network is a spoof website run by satirical authors with the sole purpose of boosting sales of their books.

Why do you keep having a go at Margaret Hodge? Do you fancy her or something? R Oppenheimer, The Cayman Islands

I do not “have a go” at Margaret Hodge. She just happens to be involved in the intellectual debate on tax avoidance.

She has provided me and my views with a great deal of support and publicity. She has helped me to dismiss the stupid idea that corporation tax is not a tax on turnover and provide parliamentary authority on the idea that transfer pricing rules are only ever used for tax avoidance, even though this has implicated her own family’s business, Stemcor.

Of course, we were able to show that this was not tax avoidance because corporation tax is actually a tax on profits and transfer pricing rules are there to prevent abusive intragroup arrangements, not enable them.

As the chair of Public Accounts Committee it has been completely appropriate for her to overstep the bounds of that role and call for the boycott of a company that has not paid tax on its turnover and used transfer pricing rules. That company being Starbucks. Not Stemcor.

Have my solicitors contacted you yet to sue you for defamation? S Richie, address supplied

I am not legally allowed to comment on that matter.

You are such an expert on tax. How do I become such a tax expert as you? R Murphy, Norfolk

That is a very good question. You should buy my books, State of Courage and The Joy of Being a Tax Expert.

Why are you unable to publish your tax gap calculations any more? You keep saying that the tax gap is exactly what it was in 2008? Is it because you realised how unreliable your methodology is and can’t figure out how, or cannot be bothered, to fudge the figures any more? B Barber, London

No. You clearly did not understand the methodology and are a neoliberal sophist. Stop trolling me.

*Not necessarily a court of law though.


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