That’s rich! Our lead­ers should tackle tax avoid­ance

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT -

THE re­lease of the Par­adise Papers un­leashed pre­dictable lev­els of out­rage at the pa­rade of celebri­ties who ex­ploit off­shore tax shel­ters to keep their wealth out of the clutches of the tax­man.

So pro­found was our shock and dis­may at the reve­la­tions, you’d al­most think that there was noth­ing that con­trib­utes so much to the sum of in­di­vid­ual hap­pi­ness as tax­a­tion.

OK, per­haps we can ex­clude Bono from the gallery of the great and the good who are guilty of be­hav­ing like many of us would, given half a chance. He’s built a plat­form as a great hu­man­i­tar­ian with his Make Poverty His­tory cru­sade and One foun­da­tion. Bono’s de­sire to have it both ways by pub­licly help­ing the un­der­dog while pri­vately in­dulging in tax avoid­ance mea­sures casts him as a hyp­ocrite at the very least.

But since when has the cast of Mrs Brown’s Boys urged or­di­nary work­ers to hand over more of their money to char­ity or the Third World? And who can re­mem­ber the top tier of bankers in AIB try­ing to guilt-trip us about our First World prob­lems?

Surely if we are earnest about clamp­ing down on tax avoid­ance schemes which cost na­tional ex­che­quers bil­lions ev­ery year in lost rev­enue, then rather than nam­ing and sham­ing celebri­ties we should sim­ply de­mand that Gov­ern­ments close off all le­gal loop­holes and re­form the global tax sys­tem en­tirely.

Un­der pres­sure from big busi­ness and the su­per-rich, gov­ern­ments turn a blind eye to the so­phis­ti­cated schemes that drain pub­lic ser­vices of funds and shift the tax bur­den to the lit­tle peo­ple.

Their moral cow­ardice and in­com­pe­tence is what’s ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for our un­equal tax sys­tem.

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