Thursday, 21 August 2003

Is taxation moral?

Last Friday there was an extraordinary article in the business section of The Scotsman

Martyn Jones is a tax partner with a well-known firm of Scottish lawyers. He writes:

The assertion that there are social needs that would not be met without taxes is also questionable.
How very true.

Mr Jones's article is a critique of an attack by the chairman of the Inland Revenue on tax avoidance. Unlike tax evasion (breaking the tax law), tax avoidance (optimising one's tax affairs within the law) is perfectly legal. It is quite outrageous that the head of the Revenue has spoken out against those who operate within the tax laws. But note the quote above from Mr Jones. By questioning the need for taxation this pillar of the Scottish legal establishment has surely outed himself as some kind of anarcho-capitalist! As Mr Jones states:

Unless it can be proved that the government always acts for good, suggesting morality as the basis for payment means there can be a strong case for refusing to hand over taxes.
I have never seen any proof that government always acts for "good" and therefore agree with Mr Jones when he tells us that:
Sir Nicholas’ sweeping assertion before the Chartered Institute of Taxation was little more than political dogma.
As my old lapel button says: Taxation is Theft.