Tax avoidance

Here’s how many primary school teachers we could pay if people stopped avoiding tax

400,000 NHS hip operations, 80,000+ primary school teachers... the government could do a lot with the money it loses from tax avoidance

It's pretty hard to be surprised by any new revelations of a very rich or famous person managing to reduce the amount of money they pay in tax.

But just because people aren't surprised, that doesn't mean they're not outraged. The Paradise Papers – a series of recent revelations about the amount of money stored in tax havens by everyone from Bono, to Apple, to the Queen – ignited a two-hour debate in UK parliament, over something they all pretty much agreed on: according to Andrew Mitchell, a Conservative MP, "all parties want to tackle tax avoidance".

Of course, some economists argue that the assumption this money would go to primary school teachers or hip replacements if it wasn't placed offshore is misleading, because businesspeople might simply not invest as much if they knew they had to pay the full tax. Whether you believe that comes down to your opinions on human behavior and incentives.

It's pretty hard to gauge accurately just how much money is in tax havens right now. Estimates over the amount stored offshore globally vary from $7.6 trillion to $32 trillion (that's trillion!). The UK tax office (HMRC) puts the figure for total money lost to legal tax avoidance at about £4bn annually – offshore 'n' all.

Tax avoidance infographic

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Reader Comments

  • WhereAreTheVikings

    What a terrible, terrible shame. Western Civilization nurtured capitalism, and now capitalism is destroying it. And these young people seem to welcome the invasion of their homeland. The media and schools have been very efficient in wiping out all traces of blood and soil.

    • prollawalllynotahumanoid

      Capitalism isn’t the problem. It’s corrupt politicians taking bribes and kickbacks from Globalists and the Chinese.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        Maybe I should have said crony capitalism. Although Italians importing Chinese to make “Italian leather” shoes is not crony capitalism. It is capitalism, pure and simple.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          That would be crony capitalism and globalism combined. They aren’t concerned with the affect their policies have upon their citizens, the health and welfare of their society and culture or their economy. What it isn’t is fair-free trade to further national interests.

          • WhereAreTheVikings

            I’ve always seen them as one and the same, but perhaps they need to be named individually, just to bring home the point.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        But now that travel is so easy and borders are virtually down through H1bs and the like, theoretically you can’t blame capitalists for the pursuit of cheaper labor, although I do heartily blame them not being more patriotic than that. Perhaps the emerging nationalism will force them to voluntarily do what they should have morally been doing all along, and that is employing business practices that preserve their countries and nationalities. The government should be doing everything it can to encourage that, to the extent that small government should do anything but guard the borders and strictly, drastically, limit immigration.

      • Henry Lam

        It is China with its corrupted mindset affecting the world.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          No it is not. Capitalism is the fairest and least corrupt system of all.

          Socialism and communism is based on authoritarianism, coercion and police intimidation. It has and always will be rife with criminality, bribes and kickbacks.

          Corruption can be anywhere but it is the very basis of socialism and communism.

    • Henry Lam

      The government is too weak. They do not understand the mindset of communists and how they educate their people. Those communist people are only loyal to their country and could be dangerous. The immigration law should only accept those who accepted multiculturalism and taught from a democratic education system. This virus events clearly has shown how stupid to take China as a friend.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        The government is not too weak. Just weak-minded about some things.

  • Gabi Rodrigues

    For how many days can a country maximum close their borders to foreigners maximum? Like now, with the virus, everyone is using 30 days. Can it be more?