Monday, March 23, 2009

Barclays tax avoidance

Here is a big pile of crap from the usually sensible Tygerland (so glad that you have decided not to give up this blogging lark, by the way).
The documents expose Barclays “tax-avoidance” measures—scamming tax-payers out of over £1bn.*

Or, to put it another way, the documents expose the fact that Barclays bank is using perfectly legal measures in order to maximise returns for shareholders.

Of course, if the directors did not take advantage of these perfectly legal measures then they could, ironically, be sued for failing to uphold their fiduciary duty to said shareholders and to depositors.

And Barclays are not "scamming tax-payers out of over £1bn": they are using (all together now!) perfectly legal measures, drawn up by the NuLabour government, in order to deny money to said government. And if you think that the NuLabour government are in any way the same as "the tax-payers" then you are a fucking moron.

Apparently, Barclays have gagged the Grauniad from publishing said memos as part of their tedious and deeply hypocritical moralising about perfectly legal corporate tax avoidance—good.

Let us remind ourselves that the Guardian Media Group, despite making £304 million profit last year, not only avoided paying any tax, it actually arranged its affairs such that it got an £800,000 rebate. And let's not even mention the GMG's use of a network of tax haven-based companies in order to avoid Stamp Duty in its deal with eMap... Oh, whoops!

I have to say that I am with John Band on this.
  1. Barclays has done nothing illegal

  2. Barclays hasn’t receieved any aid from the UK taxpayer.

… so this isn’t an issue.

Should Barclays request aid from the UK taxpayer at any point, its activities should, obviously, be taken into account when deciding how much of a haircut its shareholders deserve to be given. But at the moment, it’s trying to stop the UK taxpayer from making it take ‘aid’, which is kind-of the opposite…

Quite. Anyone who thinks that any company that tries to stop this disgustingly wasteful government from taking money from it unnecessarily, through the use of (say it again!) perfectly legal measures, is a fucking idiot.

And anyone who backs the Grauniad's position is not only a fucking idiot, but a stinking hypocrite—and a supporter of even bigger stinking hypocrites—and you forfeit any right to pass any kind of moral judgement whatso-fucking-ever. On anything. Ever.

UPDATE: a thought has just occurred... Do you think that those Lefties who view paying tax as a moral duty have ever stopped to think about what the government does with the money that they pay? One could argue that all these Lefties paying their taxes made it possible for the government to invade Iraq.

So, paying taxes is a moral duty that allows the government to immorally (and illegally) invade a sovereign country; but not paying tax and thus, potentially, stopping the government from invading a sovereign country is, in fact, immoral.

Is that the sound of Lefties' heads popping? I think it might be...

* Normally, I would always include the links in quoted passages but, given that that twit, Sunny Hundal, is spearheading this campaign, I am more than happy deliberately not to take part.


Anonymous said...

I agree.

The problem is that the left are stupid. They see paying tax as a "moral duty", and therefore by their logic, getting out of paying it is immoral.


Anonymous said...

You are of course absolutely right.

The directors of a company are entrusted by the company’s owners (mostly likely our pension funds and the like) to minimise the outgoings of the company by prudent management of its affairs, including its tax affairs. They would be in breach of their duties under their contracts and the Companies Act, etc. if they did not do this.

However, it is entirely possible for citizens to arrange their affairs and fill in their own tax returns in such as way as to maximise the tax they pay.

So while reasonable tax avoidance within the law is an obligation for company directors, citizens are entirely at liberty to fill in their tax returns to pay as much extra tax if they wish.

Let’s hear it from any of the Guardian’s journos or lefties who do this.

Old Holborn said...

Tax avoidance is GOOD.

I do it each and every day. The less they get, the less power they have.

I have no moral duty to support people who want to be paid to sit on their arses all day for doing fuck all. The exact opposite. I have a moral duty to set them free fom State poverty.

Let's get to basics. Want a 42" Plasma for nothing? Vote Labour. Want a Dolby 5.1, 72" Plasma, holidays in paradise, the best medical care in the world, a worry free retirement, a good education for your kids, great housing, good food and a smile on your face every morning?

Don't vote Labour. Get off your arse and make it happen.

Anonymous said...

I work for Barclays in their private bank. We feel a bit done in, as we all know the investment bank (BarCap) did a few dumb things that we're probably paying for in both revenue and reputation but, on the most part, we feel they did fewer dumb things than our competitors.

That we're keeping money out of the hands of the Government, using entirely legal methods they made available by making tax so fucking complicated that they couldn't keep up with the ways of circumventing it is, I admit, something that keeps me awake not one fucking second and, in fact, fills me with no small measure of pride.

In addition, we're able to keep our heads up for the time being that we haven't picked the pocket of the taxpayer to make up for the dumb things we did do.

This, coupled with the fact that I hear from reliable sources that GB threw a fucking shitfit when he heard we were not going to go along with the party line and be saved by dipping in to an empty wallet, but approach a solvent, and, I hope, sophisticated and intentional investor in the form of Mansour and his backers is a source of no small pride to me.

We may still be fucked in the end and, heaven knows, I still have fuck all bonus this year, but at least we'll die fighting and not with Gordon's dick in our arse.

I'm not necessarily saying bankers aren't bastards, and god knows we're hardly a charity, but at least I pay for my own home and, as it happens, that of my invalid father, and on my own fucking nickel.


A Bank that isn't yet picking your pocket.

Anonymous said...

repeat after me "Tax Avoidance Legal - Tax Evasion Illegal"

Jesus when will the fucking media get this right ????

And we need companies to do well , make a profit so my fucking pension fund does well and I can retire in a few years time and enjoy what is left of my life. But no - looks like now I will have to work 'til I drop.

I fucking hate Socialists - fuck'em and the horse they rode in on.....

Anonymous said...

On banking and bonuses...

I am given a very clear and aggressive revenue target for my team at the beginning of the year. If we exceed it by a significant margin it means that we, immediately, have in some way directly contributed to the bank's profits in a demonstrable, accountable way that materially exceeds the normal budgeted cost of my, and my team's employment. In this case, some of this, I suppose, unexpected profit, is distributed to me and my team. If we do not exceed this target, we get bupkiss. No whingeing, no complaints about meeting 'sustainable targets', no press releases on 'I was within the rules', or 'engaging with our key demographic'. Sweet. Fuck. All.

If I make enough money to cover my employment, I keep my job. If I make less, I have to explain why and, possibly lose it. If I make significantly more, I may, MAY, get to share in it, after a proportion has been distributed to the shareholders, and other investors.

There is a definite case to be made against bonuses and commissions paid to bankers who sold essentially debt based instruments as securities and took the vig on the upfront fees, before the issue of possible default was properly considered. However, and this is the big but, remember that not one thing that was ever sold by a UK or US bank was not fully vetted and wanked over by the regulator and government concerned.

The greatest cons convince all parties they leave as winners. The one-way bet on house prices made bankers rich, sure; but they also filled the government coffers with tax revenue for 10 years, and convinced a whole bunch of gulls (and I appreciate that some were more complicit than others) that they deserved that flat screen TV; second home; holiday to DisneyWorld and that, and this is the key point, someone else would pay for it later. Either by buying their overpriced (and don't pretend you all didn't know) home; remortgaging the house or, shit why not, just writing off the debt they couldn't afford but deserved because the advert in the middle of Jeremy Kyle told them they could.

As Greenspan said (and I almost certainly paraphrase): 'bankers are no more greedy now than they ever were; we just gave them more capacity to excercise that greed.'

Shit will expand to fill the space provided, bankers will lend as much as they can get away with at the best price they can sell it. Are bankers venal, overpaid, vicious bastards? Yes, of course some of them are. So are footballers. That's why there's a referee on the pitch; and the good ones have the respect of the losing side as well. In banking, our referee wanted both sides to win, never gave out a yellow card, and still expected the punters to pay at the gate; coming and going.

Boy on a bike said...

Kerry Packer, who was Australia's richest man, served this up to a parliamentary committee many years ago:

"Now of course I am minimising my tax. And if anyone in this country doesn't minimise their tax they want their heads read. Because as a government, I can tell you you're not spending it so well that we should be donating extra."

I still think that is the best take on this issue that you are ever going to find.

Vicola said...

If I were minted then I'd be making damn sure that I used every loophole possible to minimise my tax. This government are, to use the scientific term 'utterly and completely wank' and so I suspect that my money would be more productive if shredded and used as rabbit bedding than given to the government. Why the chuff would anyone want to give more to the government when all they seem to do is piss it up the wall?

Sir Compton Valence said...

Posted about this a while back in relation to the Guardian's witless campaign to "shame" tax avoiders. Shame them into what? IT'S LEGAL unless HMRC says it isn't, and to be frank a smart lawyer can get around those dolts.

These people see no other way than tax and spend, have no notion of self reliance, working, saving, protecting what has been built up through graft. They won't be happy even when we're all borrowing from nationalised banks to pay our tax bills.

Anonymous said...

There is possibly a moral case (although clearly not a legal one) for tax evasion. If you view tax as theft, then tax evasion is evading theft. If a group of people are set upon by muggers and a couple of them are able to hide some things from the muggers, good luck to 'em. ;-).

I am not sure I can fully get behind this argument, but I am certainly sympathetic to it.

SciFi25 said...

Er, isn't it the governments fault?? If they managed to write a tax code which didn't have as many holes in it as a string vest, neither company would be able to practise tax avoidance!!

So, yet again its Browns fault! Yay!

James Higham said...

Yes but go easy, DK. Aaron is a leftie after all - he can't help it.

Anonymous said...

I can't beleive I'm going to try a moral case for tax evasion, but what the hell, here goes.
Although tax payers will have to pick up some of the slack, many of those tax payers are also employees/customers/pension holders too, so what they loose in paying extra tax they gain by virtue of being in 1 or more of the 3 categories of people who ultimately benefit from any tax savings (legal, or illegal).

If companies avoid/evade (say) X bn of tax the government will try and claw back some of that shortfall from the remaining tax payers. They are unlikely to be able to claw it all back, there are limits to how much any one tax can rise before it becomes counter productive. If they claw back Y bn, such that Y << X, then the remainder has now not gone to the government but stayed in a lot of citizens pockets.

Although this isn't fair on those tax payers who don't fall into any of the 3 categories, it is at least better than when the whole X bn goes to the treasury. And of course the greater the number of companies that do this, the greater the number of taxpayers who will become net winners out of avoidance AND evasion because they see their wages/pensions rise and cost of goods and services fall. Most private individuals don't have the resources to do tax minimisation (by whatever means) themselves, so it behooves us to support those companies that corageously do it on our behalf and share the spoils with us. (Which of course they have to do, not out of generosity, but because "us" is the only place that tax savings can ultimately go).

Anonymous said...

In short I would put Barclays in the same bracket as the government that only gives back the small business rate relief payment if you ask for it.

They are actually taking tax money that under their rules, they are not allowed to take - Now that really IS theft.

Tenure said...

Mr Devil, consider this as well:

They make it sound as if Barclay's somehow 'robbed' the taxpayer of £1 billion.

However, if there existed measures to sufficiently tax that money, it would never actually reach the £1 billion mark. That £1 billion is the result of good investments at a fraction of that. So, really, the even if Barclay's owed tax on this, it would still only be a percentage of the £1 billion, not the full whack.

Shug Niggurath said...

Fuck them, give them fifty pence.

CityUnslicker said...

Both sides spinning, BARC playing a dangerous game. Playing hte borderline legality card will work as long as it is true.

Anonymous said...

Well - evasion, avoidance , schmoidance....

Truth of the matter is that like all bullies HMRC are simply occupying themselves with beating up on folk who are unlikely to , or are incapable of fighting back.

They've recently changed quite a number of rules regarding overseas and offshore workers and have been going around attempting to intimidate extra money retrospectively out of pretty simple day rate working folk who'd dutifully paid their taxes according to previous rules - but now it's "the rules have changed" - "payup or else...."

I knew the Customs<>Inland Revenue marriage made in hell wouldn't be good but the general herd are presently only dimly aware of the rapacious monster that lurks.... The bigger animals can to a certain extent defend themselves - but - there's definitely trouble afoot.

Anonymous said...

The Left see tax as a weapon. Offer the Left a choice of two options:

a) A lower tax rate which raises more revenue, or

b) A higher tax rate which raises less (because of avoidance/evasion)

and the Left will choose (b) every time. Tax is a weapon to punish the successful, the self-reliant - everything the Left despises.

I was thinking of going to the pub tonight but now I won't. Isn't that tax avoidance? I would have paid excise duty on the pints of beer I drank, but now I am not.

Come on, Lefties! Smoke 100 fags a day and drink 10 pints - anything less is tax avoidance, which you think is immoral!

Anonymous said...

Never have I seen so many stupid comments in one place! What a bunch of dumb f*ckers you are!

Even if you think the Government is incompetent - I do - even if you disagree with the way money generated from tax is used - who doesn't? - can't you see that it's completely ridiculous to have massive, multi-billion pound corporations paying less tax than you lot of low-earning plonkers?

And the reason they do so? Simply because they can afford to pay huge sums to people to find ways around rules, using highly suspect and morally ambiguous methods.

So, the more money you have, the less you pay. Yeah, that's a great system. Someone once said only the little people pay tax and they were right.

What really cracks me up, is that you idiots are the ones being screwed, yet you lap it up! What a bunch of twats.

Devil's Kitchen said...


I would argue against your pig-ignorant diatribe, but why should I bother repeating myself for the benefit of someone who is so obviously mentally deficient?


Anonymous said...

It's not 'pig ignorant' you twat. Read it again. Lower earners without the ability to pay people to find ways around the system end up paying more in tax than multi-national corporations, who are making billions. And you think that's reasonable? What a complete tosser you are.

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