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Economics

Published on July 21st, 2014 | by Matthew Deacon
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Why avoid tax?

Everybody thinks they pay too much tax. Everybody believes they should pay less. Some bend and even break the law to ensure that they pay less. Promises to reduce taxes can win political races and change people’s affiliations. But why is tax such a dirty word? Why do people hate the tax man to the point of defrauding their friends, neighbours and even their families?

Of course we are all familiar with the big stories about tax evasion and tax avoidance have come out in the UK press in the last few years from the vast tax avoidance schemes of companies such as Vodafone and Starbucks to celebrities such as Jimmy Carr and Alex Turner avoiding their full tax bills. These stories have led to public outcry and pressure on these companies and individuals to pay the UK exchequer what they owe.

However, thousands of ordinary people all over the UK also avoid and evade paying their full tax bill every year costing the UK exchequer as much as £95 billion annually. Avoiding tax within everyday UK society is not looked down upon or thought of as wrong, in fact if they could most people probably would choose to avoid tax.

This hypocrisy is the root of the problem, tax avoidance by ordinary men and women is viewed as fair, as a way that they get back what they are owed by the government however, if a big company or a celebrity avoids tax it is seen as wrong and fraudulent. If tax avoidance was thought of in the public imagination as a universally negative or even as a particularly problematic issue less and less people would commit these crimes. Moreover, more and more would be done by the government against those who cheat the system. It is this lack of attitude towards, and even acceptance of, tax avoidance within the general population that means that thousands of people across the country are prepared to defraud those closest to them.

Why though? Why do people spend so much time, effort and money attempting to avoid and evade the taxes that they owe to the government? The UK government pays out around £728.7 billion every year to provide public services such as education, the NHS, pensions, emergency services, the armed forces and welfare services just to name a few.

These are vital services that, over time, have become accepted and loved national institutions that employ millions of people and help millions more every year. It is these institutions, the people that make them work and those they support that tax avoiders and evaders are really hurting.

However, it is the blind recklessness of tax avoidance that is the most astonishing thing; those that avoid tax are more often than not those who shout loudest that taxes need to be lowered. But, it is these taxes that in the short term maintain law and order, transport links and the health service that we all rely on and in the long term pay our pensions and guarantee the future of British democracy.

Tax may be a dirty word to a large portion of the population but personally I believe that a fair and equal taxation system enforced universally is nothing but a good thing. The UK’s landmark institutions can only be sustained through taxation. We can only continue to understand the UK in its present form through the social structures that taxation makes possible. It is in this way that paying tax is not only the law but also the duty of all workers to pay. Taxation is a support system we all need

 

Please note that all blog posts do not represent the views of Catch21 but only of the individual writers. We also aim to be factually accurate and balanced across all content taken as a whole.

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About the Author

Matthew is a final year Film Studies student at the University of Sussex with a strong background in academic and critical writing. He has studied and worked with politics over the last 5 years and believes politics can offer everyone a voice. He lives in Brighton and loves the music of Mogwai. You can find him on twitter at @MDeacs77



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