Expert comment: ‘Government to name and shame wealthy tax avoiders’

Arvind Lall is Lecturer Taxation and Ethics at Kent Business School, University of Kent and a tax practitioner and makes comment on the following recent BBC news item:

Government to name and shame wealthy tax avoiders

I recently commented on ‘aggressive’ tax avoidance and it seems to me that the pressure is now to not only look at its legality, but its morality too. This article on the BBC website (23.7.2012) appears to be heading in that direction, and because I have already made earlier comment I shall keep this brief. It seems that, philosophically speaking, a communitarian perspective (or the common good ideal) comes more and more to the fore, and the individual needs to look beyond himself and take note of the effect his tax avoidance has on others. Yes, it does erode the rights of the individual (Kantian) but within the context of our own society in the UK the community has also to be considered, or so the government would now argue and the Chancellor aims to do something about it. Legal pedantry is no longer enough for professionals and their clients to make a moral case to avoid taxes, and the accountancy profession too is clearly now under the ’moral’ spotlight. But here is the last word. A few months ago the actor Jeremy Irons on the morning BBC news programme put it rather succinctly by saying that ‘tax avoidance is just simply bad manners’.  Little can I add to that sentiment.

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