I see that arch-neoliberal sophist Tim Worstall is insinuating that the Guardian is avoiding tax by using the substantial shareholding exemption on its sale of Auto Trader owner, Trader Media Group.
Well, the substantial shareholding exemption is clearly mandated by law and there is nothing the Guardian could possibly do to get around it. I am sure that they have tried to maximise the tax liability on the transaction, but I s
But, what do we expect the Guardian to do exactly? Pay more tax than is legally due? Civil Society balks at the idea of law-abiding businesses and citizens being bullied into paying more than their fair share.
And they are indeed paying their fair share as stipulated by law. It just so happens that their fair share on the sale of £600m of shares is nothing. And it just so happens that their fair share on their annual turnover of £250m is nothing.
But that is exactly what the law says it should be. And that law is set by our democratic representatives. Which means that Civil Society has indeed demanded that the Guardian pays no tax whatsoever.
Civil Society, on the other hand, thinks that transfer pricing rules, rules of permanent establishment, capital allowances, utilisation of losses, the difference in rates of tax between incorporated and unincorporated entities, the patent box, research and development tax credits, the rules on non-doms, world debt cap, CFCs, the GAAR, enterprise investment schemes, film tax relief, entrepreneurs relief, the low rate of CGT and so on, are all established through non-democratic methods.
As such, any business which obeys those laws is doing so against the will of Parliament and the demands of Civil Society. They are therefore avoiding tax by immorally obeying the law as it was intended.
Of course, many businesses do use SSE in a way not intended by Parliament, which I assure you the Guardian is not doing here. So many other businesses using the SSE are also avoiding tax.
Therefore, the Guardian is acting legally. It is also acting morally because it is paying what is determined by the law, even though it would dearly love to pay more.
All I can possibly say on this matter, is that the Guardian is observing the wishes of Civil Society in the most dignified manner.