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DAILY MAIL COMMENT: 32 billion reasons to nail the tax-dodgers

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 2 December 2012

At a time when hard-pressed families struggle desperately against soaring petrol, food and energy bills, the cynical avoidance by major corporations and the super-rich of an estimated 32billion in tax is nothing short of immoral.

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Dodgers: For years, governments have been promising a crackdown on corporate tax avoidance by giants like Google and Starbucks

It’s not just private individuals who suffer. Corporation tax avoidance on such a massive scale is also contributing to the slow death of the high street. Businesses who pay all their taxes simply can’t compete with the prices of those who don’t.

So what are the tax authorities doing
about this disgraceful corporate rip-off Very little according to the
Public Accounts Committee. In a report today, it accuses HM Revenue and
Customs of being ‘way too lenient’ with these firms and ‘unduly
complacent’ about the scale of the problem.

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Isn’t it high time they stopped prevaricating and showed some urgency

The Mail welcomes Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge to put new teams of investigators and an extra 400million into closing loopholes used by tax-dodgers.

The authorities are quick enough to jump on ordinary taxpayers and small businesses if there’s the slightest suggestion they are underpaying. Why should major companies get preferential treatment

Mr Osborne says Britain may be consigned to another five years of austerity, during which general taxation will almost certainly have to rise.

Isn’t the moral case for those future tax rises fatally undermined if these corporate fat cats refuse to pay their share.

For years, governments have been promising a crackdown on corporate tax avoidance. This report gives 32 billion reasons why it can’t be fudged any longer.

Whitehall’s sickness

New figures on sickness levels among junior civil servants suggest that a visit to Whitehall by the public health inspectors is long overdue.

While the average private sector worker took fewer than six days a year in sick leave last year, admin staff at the Foreign Office took an average of almost five weeks.

In the business department the average was nearly four weeks, and in others more than two – still more than twice as many as in private firms.

So, is there a sickness that afflicts public servants but not their counterparts in the private sector Or is generous sick leave on full pay just regarded by many civil servants as a perk of the job

Private firms simply wouldn’t stand for such a culture of indolence – indeed it could put them out of business.

So why are Whitehall managers allowed to accept this gross waste of public money with a mere shrug of the shoulders

Voices of reason

To listen to Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, and the Hacked Off brigade, it would be easy to get the impression that Lord Justice Leveson and his inquiry assessors had unanimously recommended compulsory state regulation of the Press.

Opposition: Human Rights expert Shami Chakrabarti rebuked pro-legislation pressure groups such as Hacked Off

Keeping a cool head: Human Rights expert Shami Chakrabarti rebuked pro-legislation pressure groups such as Hacked Off

In fact one assessor, Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, warned that compulsory regulation was almost certainly illegal under human rights laws and two others – eminent journalists George Jones and Elinor Goodman – said statutory compulsion was unnecessary because the industry would unanimously adopt a tough new regime of self-regulation.

In the hysterical clamour for new laws that threaten centuries of Press freedom, thank goodness some are keeping a cool head.