Gary Barlow should have been subject to a GRAPIST

Nobody should really have any concerns about HMRC accessing your bank accounts without the permission of a court. That’s a non-story so let’s talk about Take That instead.

The Take That affair quite obviously illustrates that the current law is insufficient to deal with tax avoidance at all.

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The official expert of choice for intellectual newspapers

It is always nice to be recognised as the tax expert that I am. And to be recognised by Alun Rusbridger, the Guardian’s editor as “the expert” on tax matters is about the bare minimum of recognition I deserve.

Alun, who must surely now be considering giving me a column in gratitude for having proved beyond doubt that the Guardian is behaving in a completely non-hypocritical manner, obviously read my post from yesterday and agreed with everything therein.

RusbridgerRecognisesExpertiseWhenHeSeesIt

I remind you that Alun is an editor of a national newspaper and wouldn’t openly agree with an article without reading it fully first – I doubt very much that he only read the first sentence and liked my conclusion so much he just assumed everything I had written was correct.

Can you imagine what a newspaper would be like if its editor didn’t bother checking all the facts properly before it published stories on a subject? Especially on something as complicated on taxation.

I imagine that, if someone were to behave in this manner, it would be easy to mistake a flagrantly tendentious prevaricator on tax issues with a universally-recognised and nonpartisan expert such as myself.

It is good to know that the media is covering the issue of taxation with such care.

Why aren’t paid lobbyists like me on the board of HMRC?

My new favourite source of newspaper column inches since I had a professional misunderstanding with The Guardian, The Mirror, reports:

A fatcat who helped energy firm Npower’s owners avoid millions of pounds in tax now sits on the board of HM Revenue and Customs – as an adviser to the Taxman.

January is the most wonderful time of the year… for tax!

As an actual real-life actual accountant, I indeed spend most of my January doing accountantly things. Which is why I only have time to blog eight or nine times a day at present.
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Submit your tax return, you complete moron!

A firm of accountants has noted that:

As many as 120,000 parents of middle-class families are set to be hit by fines of £100 from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for failing to repay their child benefit.

Parents that fail to register for Self-Assessment and complete an online form to repay the child benefit received in the 2012/13 tax year by 31st January 2014 will be hit with an automatic £100 penalty.

Additional penalties could be applied to those who fail to act, reaching as much as £1,600 for those who file more than 12 months late.

I fully support the imposition of penalties for tax returns submitted late.

I also think anyone paying them is pretty stupid.

That person paying a penalty must be a right idiot. A total simpleton. An imbecile. A fool. A dunce. A twit. An ignoramus. A nincompoop. A ninny.

To incur a penalty for a late return, you must be a boob. Or a nitwit. Or an oaf. Or a twit.

In other words, you are a moron.

I mean, it is not like your average person who has never had to complete a tax return before, or doesn’t understand why you might need to complete a tax return, might be caught off-guard by the need to fill in a tax return for a withdrawal of a state benefit (introduced at the most logical time of three-quarters of the way through a tax year).

This applies especially to single parents who happen to get caught by the high income child benefit charge. You, madam (it is always the neoliberal women who selfishly keep custody of the children), are a moron for not noticing such a fact in between working full-time, perhaps multiple jobs, and looking after your family with no support whatsoever.

And, do you know what? If you haven’t actually been told by HMRC that you might be affected by this, that makes you even more stupid! You total clod for requiring to be told!

What, your salary is under £50k so you thought you were ok? You overlooked your benefits-in-kind, or some other income in the year, or your small pay rise tipped you over the £50k late in the year and you weren’t aware of the apportionment rules? You buffoon!

I mean, everybody knows exactly what they need to do in respect of tax: how much they should be paying and what they need to tell the tax man. That is why that PAYE mess a couple of years back affected nobody whatsoever. It certainly didn’t affect hundreds of thousands of people who would certainly all be complete cretins for not realising.

And it is not like this adversely affects those who do not do things online either. I mean, it is not like many people fail to submit their return on time because they are digitally excluded, maybe because they live in a rural broadband-free area, submitting a paper return despite the fact that the paper deadline has long passed.

I mean, if this sort of thing actually affects real people, that would illustrate just how out-of-touch and ignorant I am in calling people stupid for failing to submit their return on time.

And it could not possibly be true that I am out-of-touch or ignorant.

As somebody who obviously knows what it is like to be a practising accountant, I can tell you that all my clients know exactly what they need me to do in every conceivable circumstance. And if they don’t they are stupid and it is completely their fault for not telling me that there was some sort of tax issue they should have told me to sort out.

So, I demand that you get your tax return done on time. The State has every right to persecute you if you do not.

Sure, you may owe nothing. You might even be owed a refund for your measly income that barely covers your bills. Regardless, The State has the moral right to wipe out all your savings and bankrupt you should you be too busy or unaware (ie too moronic) to notice that you need to complete your tax return.

And please don’t ask me to do it – my professional indemnity insurance no longer covers me for tax advisory work. Apparently I’m “not suitably qualified in any way to advise on tax matters”.

Tax the fatties, but just don’t tell them I said so

As the world’s greatest tax expert and a leading dietician, I’ve been asked to take part in a BBC local radio broadcast this morning on tax and obesity.

One of the solutions to the obesity issue that has been suggested is a ‘fat tax’. That is a tax on sugary and fatty foods in particular. For ease of reference, I shall refer to them as ‘neoliberal foodstuffs’.

I have to say I am not in favour of such a move although I often say that tax should be used to reprice neoliberal goods. So a fat tax is exactly the sort of thing I have said I ought to be in favour of.

But now faced with an example of the sort of thing I advocate, I have decided things are a bit more complicated than I have made out previously and we probably need to fudge things in an overly complex and ineffective manner.

So let us introduce a tax that disguises the fact that a tax is being levied but that businesses will ultimately factor into the price of the product anyway. That way fatties will not realise that the government is trying to discourage them with a fat tax and they can carry on moaning about the cost of living crisis.

I got this idea from Ed Miliband’s successful ploy of increasing green taxes on energy and then moaning about the increasing price of energy.

So we should ban advertising of neoliberal foodstuffs aimed at children. I advocate this for neoliberal foodstuffs specifically here, but I believe that no advertising should be aimed at children whatsoever (independent television companies will not be able to subsidise children’s programmes – we can then use the BBC’s children’s channels for State Educational purposes without fear of children switching off).

Then adverts aimed at adults should carry an additional VAT charge. Of course, this won’t make any difference because the businesses can just reclaim the input VAT so unless we levy the VAT on the end product this will make no difference whatsoever. But this would alert consumers to the existence of the tax so it fails the Ed Miliband test.

So it will have to be a new advertising tax for foodstuffs. A tax on the cost of advertising based on the neoliberalness of the foodstuff is a simple thing to do. So let us not dwell on the practicalities of such a tax (even though that is pretty much the entire substance of such a discussion once you have decided that discouraging unhealthy living through the tax system is desirable).

Finally, businesses should not be allowed to offset the cost of advertising neoliberal foodstuffs against their income when it comes to calculating their tax liabilities. Again, this would become factored into the end price of the product, hitting the consumer ultimately, but would mean that I can blame the neoliberal foodstuff companies when pursued by fatties outside of Greggs.

Of course this will entirely solve this problem by doing four things.

First, it would increase the price of food.In fact, it would do it in exactly the same way as would a fat tax, but is so complex that it has plausible deniability for the responsibility of raising prices. In other words, it passes the Ed Miliband test.

Second, awareness of the issue would be increased by the simple existence of this complex new tax which is not directly levied on the consumer. Of course, awareness will only exist amongst people who have to implement the tax.

Third, even though taxpayers already pay for the country’s healthcare, more funds would be raised for healthcare education programmes. Well, more funds will be raised if the desired behavioural effects of the advertising tax don’t work, but as only people who work in the production and promotion of neoliberal foodstuffs will know about it I am not anticipating there to be any behavioural effect whatsoever.

(Remember, I have disproved the Laffer effect so people will not change their behaviour as a result of increased taxes anyway.)

And fourthly, it gives me the opportunity to go on the radio again.

There is no perfect solution to this problem, but if there is one, it would be this.

Christmas is a time all about tax, yes, but let’s not forget it the rest of the year

I published a post yesterday which touched on the importance of telling stories.

As with all good stories, people suspend their disbelief when it is something they want to hear. So we accept that the Gruffalo doesn’t eat the mouse on sight, as he has eaten thousands of mice before, and decides to strike up a conversation with it. We learn as infants to stop questioning.

Or, at least, my children did. To question the tenets upon which the Gruffalo is based (that the Gruffalo is a sadistic neoliberal who toys with all of his prey) was sophistry and such comments were routinely moderated at story time.

Yes, people will ignore almost any sized plot hole provided that they like the overall story. So you see that it is important for Justice for Taxes to link tax to everything and anything that people like, regardless of how tenuous it may seem. The important point is that people like the story, not that it makes sense. It only needs to seem like it might make sense.

So, without further ado, I announce my Christmas lecture:

Tax is for life, not just for Christmas

The one and only Murphy Richard, President of Researches for Taxes UK

Wednesday 11th December
6.00pm – 7.30pm followed by Reception
Room B52, Nottingham University Business School, South Building, Jubilee Campus, Nottingham

Apparently the allocated room number depends on the speaker and is some sort of in-joke with the Business School staff.

The theme of my lecture is that, rather like a dog, people commonly associate Christmas with taxation. It is probably because Christmas is a time for giving rather than receiving. Which is something that The State loves to hear from its citizens.

But my deliberately provocative point is that we should also think about taxation the rest of the year too.

As with a dog, being responsible for taxation requires year-long care. It involves administering worming tablets, vaccinations, sticking a microchip in the neck and carrying plastic bags in your pocket at all times. It means going out in the cold for long walks in the pouring rain, sometimes shouting its name, giving up and finding it waiting on the doorstep for you wagging its tail. Sometimes taxation will steal your roast dinner from the kitchen work surface whilst your back is turned and you will have to have a cup-a-soup instead. 

The only difference I can think of is that we shouldn’t have taxation put down when it becomes too burdensome to look after. And we shouldn’t leave it in kennels in the UK when we go abroad. You should get a pet passport for your UK tax liability and take it with you wherever you go.

It is another one of my powerful metaphors that makes the point readily understandable and accessible to all. Rather like a Venn diagram would.