Friday, 20 March 2009

I just need to get this off my chest

Barclays Bank, which is negotiating with the government for the taxpayer to insure their insanely risky investments, is a serial tax evader. Worse than that, it has an arm which specialises in shifting money around the world with the sole purpose of making money out of the taxpayer - about £1 billion pounds a year. The Guardian, despite having some dubious links to certain financial bodies, has been uncovering Barclays' web of deceitful trades, which the Inland Revenue haven't got the resources to follow.

This is what one financier said of Barclays' scheme, in the Financial Times:
I will say it was absolutely breathtaking, extraordinary. The depth of deceit, connivance and deliberate, artificial avoidance stunned me. The intricacy and artificiality of the scheme deeply was absolutely evident, as was the fact that the knew exactly what they were doing and why: to get money from one point in London to another without paying tax, via about 10 offshore companies. Simple, deliberate outcome, clearly stated, with the exact names of who was doing this, and no other purpose.
Until now I have been a supporter of the finance industry - I work with people there regularly and respect many of them, and greatly enjoy the Financial Times and other financial papers.

However this has shone a light on something for me, and made me certain that these people belong in jail, and companies like Barclays deserve to be bankrupt. They have robbed everyone of us,every single person who pays tax or who will ever pay tax in this country (and other countries!), through both the bailouts and schemes such as this.

Barclays' response is to ban publication of, and linking to, the leaked internal documents which revealed how they steal from us while begging for our help. So let's give a big hand to Wikileaks, which makes sure that leaked documents are never lost for good. You don't have to read them, just understand that this kind of activity is the Web's version of public service. The Guardian, like many companies which pay tax without trying to cheat, has a big office in London and responsibilities to employees and readers: it can't publish and be damned if the courts (yet again, acting solely for the powerful against the public interest) issue an injunction. Wikileaks, ironically, is like the dubious corporations who hide offshore (Walkers Crisps: a Swiss company now), and can post information out of reach of local courts.

These people are thieves. The Department of Work and Pensions is currently running an Orwellian campaign against benefit cheats who 'rob' the rest of us by falsely claiming the dole, or whatever. Fair enough - though living on £50 per week isn't exactly the same as having a Bond-villain style hideout. How about we conduct a similar campaign of persecution against these financiers? They steal far more than all the benefit cheats put together.

Some of their activities are illegal, and rely on the connivance of offshore states (Britain, ironically, encourages this behaviour onshore and offshore), and the poverty of the Inland Revenue - which sold its office to an offshore company which thus avoided tax. I can't express how angry this stuff makes me. I know all my friends think that I'm a boring old wanker for getting wound up by this, but it's important. These bankers and lawyers like their Chelsea mansions and airports and golf courses and private schools and all the other trimmings that makes life in Britain fantastic for the rich, but they're engaged in a concerted plot to make live worse for the rest of us: tax pays for roads and schools and infrastructure and child benefit and the NHS and pensions and clean air and universities and street lights and the police and the ambulance services and the firemen and the coastguard and so many things, so these bastards are stealing the high life and leaving us naive morons to pay for everything.

I have an enjoyable job and I'm paid fairly well (for now - half my contract expires in September), but I'll never be rich. There are, however, small ways in which I could get some tax back, quite legally. I don't do it. I believe that governments (even these gimps) are a good way to improve the lives of the citizens as a whole and it's our duty to contribute (which doesn't mean we shouldn't scream blue murder when it's wasted, as with Trident and ID cards). We have responsibilities to each other: my taxes pay for a binman's heart operation and his children's education and his taxes pay my salary. Everyone's a winner in the long term, which is why these tax-avoiding scum are thieving from us in exactly the same way as the benefit cheat: rich men have their bins emptied by the council the same as the rest of us. Their cleaners claim child benefit and their heart attack will be treated by an NHS nurse.

How's this for an idea? Ban non-domiciled or tax-avoiding executives from using public services. No bins emptied. Turned away from A+E. No road travel. No TV or radio. No calling the police, fire brigade or ambulance. No calling the council when the neighbours have a noisy party… we could wreck their lives until they're shamed into paying up.

Let's start with Lord Rothermere. He owns the Daily Mail, which hates governments but also hates foreigners and tax cheats. He lives in a massive, tasteless, reactionary, £50m mansion in Wiltshire which wasn't big enough so he's added another couple of wings to the building you see here.

Apparently, however, Donhead St. Andrew in Wiltshire is a foreign country. It must be because Private Eye (discussed here) has discovered that Rothermere is, for tax purposes, 'non-domiciled' and therefore doesn't pay UK tax on his £800m (inherited) fortune because his father lived in Paris. The Inland Revenue decided that this blatant theft wasn't worth investigating.

I must go for a little lie-down now.

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