Every time I look at my payslip I curse the “tax man”. I know on balance, taxes are great. They're the reason I can sleep soundly knowing that I'll receive a decent education, health care and perhaps most importantly free access to books for the rest of my life.
In fact, if asked to pitch my tent on either side of the proverbial fence, I'd definitely set up camp with the tax lovers. But that still doesn't take away the feeling of injustice every month for the 20 per cent that never even touches my bank account. And as the multi-national tax avoiders sat down in front of MPs today, I couldn't help but feel their pain.
Not paying tax is bad. There's no two ways about it. Some would even go so far to call it immoral. It creates an injustice in the system and those with the big bucks can dodge millions in corporation tax, leaving the little man floundering with his higher prices and decreased sales. Especially in the current climate, it can seem mighty unfair that whilst we're counting our pennies to see if we've got enough for food this week, the Amazon's and Google's of the world are getting off almost entirely.
Yet whilst tax avoidance is undeniably morally dodgy, it's also undeniably legal. If someone offered me the chance to pay less tax legally, I'd take it. And so would most of us. It's basic human instinct to look out for our own immediate personal interests. If I just happened to be Amazon, Google or Starbucks? I sure as hell would want to keep as much of my cash as I could.
It's incredibly easy to pin the blame on the massive multi-national “bad-boys”, but in doing so we're overlooking the main problem. No one can be expected to act morally, especially when doing so creates a direct conflict with our own personal interests. If MPs, and the public, want tax avoidance to go away, it will have to start with a law change.