The Great Debate UK
In this current state of ‘austerity’, with a proliferating tax avoidance industry whose reason for existence it is to creatively exploit the ever-complicating fiscal spaghetti of taxing statutes – the new loopholes for avoidance which inevitably arise upon construction of new legislation, Benjamin Franklin would of course be wrong in his conclusion on certainty, that: “In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes”.
Of the certainty deemed necessary for tax legislation, it is well acknowledged that it necessarily makes revenue collection increasingly uncertain. Contrived avoidance schemes follow in the wake of specifically targeted legislation: tax law followed to the letter. Abuse of Low Value Consignment Relief, an EU tax relief on goods exported from the Channel Islands, for instance, results in a VAT loss of over 110 million pounds per year. We might consider a proverb of Sir Francis Bacon:
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties”.
Controversy and running RBS go hand in hand. Stephen Hester replaced Fred Goodwin as chief executive of RBS and is now in hot water himself over his incentive pay deal. The chief executive of the state-controlled bank could be paid 9.6 million pounds over three years if the share price (currently 44p) reaches 70p. However, he seems to have so little faith in the shares reaching that level that he has offloaded 1,264,565 shares since last November at prices between 28.5p and 48p, yielding just over 464,000 pounds.
When unveiling first half results last week Hester asserted that "We have a strong plan in place that I believe can get us to where we need to be by 2013," which presumably includes recovery in a share price still languishing more than 90 percent off its peak.