UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from The Great Debate UK:

In support of a “super law” to clamp down on tax avoidance

-Nizar Manek is a writer based at the London School of Economics. He blogs at Albino Whale. Follow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed are his own.-

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”.

Tony Travers on challenges the parties face


tony_traverspmAlthough the Queen’s speech on Wednesday is a formal occasion to outline the government’s agenda for the new parliamentary session, with less than six months to go before a general election, commentators are viewing it as the unofficial launch of Labour’s campaign.

Tony Travers, director of the Greater London Group at the London School of Economics, outlines some of the challenges the parties face before elections, which must be held no later than June 2010.