Well, it has to be said, I dazzled the House of Lords today.
I shone so brightly that they got up half way through our meeting to go and enact my GRAPIST. Even being forced to share a platform with arch-sophists Belinda Dodwell and Patricia Stephens didn’t prevent me from blinding the Lords with my brilliance.
I think they were compelled by such statements as:
“I don’t know much about SDLT, I’ve always considered it too much of a ‘lawyers tax’, but I could walk around this legislation in fifteen minutes.”
“My new book is out in February and I’m writing another.”
“It is an incontrovertible fact that my bill would stop this. Enveloping just wouldn’t exist any more!”
“What those companies have done is separate the legal form from the economic substance. Shut your mouth Belinda, they do! They do! Ad hominem! Ad hominem!”
“Would you like a signed copy of my book? I’ll only charge you an extra fiver.”
“Stop touching my leg Patricia.”
“I have a dream. A dream where multinationals and UK companies are taxed on the same basis. But then the multinationals are taxed a bit more.”
“The Ramsay’s principles don’t work any more… Yes Belinda, I said the Ramsay principle, check your ears love. It hasn’t worked in years… What? Just the other day? That’s sophistry Patricia.”
“The GAAR won’t do what it’s supposed to do.”
“The GAAR will only do what it’s supposed to do, but it won’t tackle tax avoidance.”
“The GAAR does exactly what it’s supposed to do, but it won’t tackle tax planning.”
“The GAAR will work precisely as intended.”
“Oh, I didn’t bother reading the legislation we’re discussing. Have you read my bill?”
“This is on television right? Otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning my book. I mentioned it already in my written evidence, you see.”
The man on the Clapham omnibus will recognise that I won the debate.
Unfortunately, that man’s knowledge of the tax legislation of this country is so woefully lacking his opinion will not be regarded as “reasonable” for the purpose of Aaronson’s GAAR.
Apparently, to be considered “reasonable” the opinion of somebody who has read the legislation in question is required.
Come on, that’s not we want. What we want to do is to make popular opinion legally binding in some way. We don’t want people to have to go to the effort of considering what the law says and what was intended by the law as established by a democratically elected government and ratified by Parliament.
No, that will require me to research my books and blog posts.
Instead, we should have the basis of law democratised to the level of mildly popular opinion in the press. I mean, journalists have high ethical standards and we know that they are very tightly regulated.
Then, we would know exactly what the law is by reference to the front page of the newspapers. Not the Telegraph though.
If utilising trading losses is controversial, which I believe it now is, that will be stopped.
Reasonableness is just not reasonable. Come on, what are we saying? If something could be seen to be reasonable given full knowledge of the facts we should assume that it may have been reasonable.
That’s completely unreasonable! How are we going to cream more money off rich people if we stick to principles, even if they are subjective?
My GRAPIST has a quadruple questionable test.
If it is questionable that a questionable person might questionably view a transaction as questionable, then it is avoidance and should be taxed however HMRC think appropriate.
This allows HMRC to basically say that the tax is whatever they want in any given circumstance. But for fairness sake I have included a clearance process.
You have to pay up front, of course. 5% of whatever tax HMRC think may possibly be at stake. That’s fair isn’t it?
Also, I cannot conceive of a situation where an honest taxpayer might wish to know whether they are compliant with the law. So anybody seeking clearance will fail the GRAPIST test pretty much automatically.
And we only need to employ some office donkey to use a big red ‘no’ stamp all day long.
So my GRAPIST provides certainty too. If you have to ask, you’re guilty.
Are Starbucks guilty? I asked a question, so yes.
Are Google guilty? Another question, so yes.
Are Amazon guilty? Even you non tax experts should be getting the idea by now.
So, in short, I beat Belinda and Patricia and plugged my book on television. What a day!