How do I define tax avoidance? My unambiguous answer

I was asked yesterday by a pretty experienced tax journalist how I defined the difference between tax planning and tax avoidance.

“That”, I said “is easy. It’s getting legal opinion.” And I put down the phone.

What did I mean? Well, I meant that the UK tax system is so straightforward and simple that nobody in their right mind would need to get legal opinion unless they were doing something malicious.

Remember, this is how I definetax avoidance. This is not simply some heuristic or intermittent indicator. This is no sloppy rule of thumb.This is how I openly say that I distinguish tax avoidance from tax planning. Not just in passing either. I say this to journalists in my professional capacity. And then I blog about the conversation on my website so that nobody is any doubt that this is what I consider the absolute definition of tax avoidance to be.
Seeking legal advice is undoubtedly a characteristic that is unique and always present with tax avoidance that is always absent from tax planning in every instance.

Yes, obtaining legal counsel is the definition, the definition I say, of tax avoidance.

What do I mean by definition? Well, I mean the thing that most appropriately describes tax avoidance and distinguishes tax avoidance from being anything else that is mutually exclusive to being tax avoidance. I am talking about the thing that characterises tax avoidance most appropriately.

If you were to look in the dictionary you would see this entry:

Tax avoidance, noun: Obtaining legal opinion pertaining to taxation. Immoral and alegal.

I am being completely unequivocal here, so don’t expect me to give in to your pedantry and start pretending that obtaining legal opinion is anything but the sole determinant of whether something constitutes tax avoidance or not.

The only relevant factor to whether something is tax avoidance is whether legal opinion has been obtained. Nothing else matters because it is not relevant to the definition of tax avoidance.

If you ask me, “Is this tax avoidance?” I will simply respond “Has legal opinion been given in respect of this?”

I don’t think I could speak in any plainer English but the idiotic neoliberals who troll my site never cease to amaze me.


2 thoughts on “How do I define tax avoidance? My unambiguous answer

  1. Pingback: Flowchart for our times: are you committing tax avoidance? | The Justice for Taxes Network

  2. Could the definition be any more clearer. As far as definitions go, or should go, this is the most clearest definition possible.

    Any further clarity would require a legal opinion, thus negating the definition by definition.

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