Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tax Loopholes

Panama has been in the news recently and it has not had much to do with shipping. Or hats. Film stars, maybe. 

(what is it with women wearing men's clothes, by the way?)
No-one  who frequents the Tavern puts his/her hand up to avoiding tax. Indeed it is oft pointed out that there are only three ways of dealing with tax: you either pay what is legally required; pay more than what is legally required; or pay less than is legally required.

The latter is what is usually called 'avoidance', whereas taking steps to pay only what is required and not a penny more is variously called 'minimising' or 'common sense.' I do not know of anyone, least of all Politicians who make the Tax Laws actually donating extra. 

Not paying any tax at all when you should be, or as is far more common and pretty well established in the dealings of the vast majority of people, getting far more 'benefits' back than you ever actually pay in tax, is evasion. Got that?  We won't get into health funding based on gender or the great child-care rorts. That just gets accountants roaring with laughter/green with jealousy.

But consider this:
"No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. 
The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer's pocket.  
And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue"
No, that was not from Bond, James Bond, but from James Avon Clyde, Lord Clyde KC DL (1863 – 1944)Lord Justice General and Lord President of the Court of Session from 1920 to 1935

A recent scandal has affected the elections in Oz, as well as the 'standing' of the British Prime Minister. Tax-dodging' accusations have been made and aspertions cast. This has come about by the unofficial release of otherwise secret details from an accounting firm in Panama. (No name; no pack-drill). We all know who it is.

It makes a change from the Cayman Islands or Lichtenstein. These are places that seem to exploit all the many loopholes in the tax laws of various countries.
The Caymans.
And now we are getting to know who has been engaging in such frowned-upon 'arrangements'. Yes, the very chaps and chapesses who make the laws.

Someone asked 'can we get an overview of the occupations of the persons associated with the Panama Papers? '

An answer of sorts came......

Occupations of persons from Panama Papers

Well … that might be difficult, but we can get a biased plot by using the listing in Wikidata, where persons associated with the Panama Papers seems to be tagged and where their occupation(s) is listed. It produces the plot below.

It is fairly straightforward to construct such a bubble chart given the new plotting capabilities in the Wikidata Query Service. Dutch Wikipedian Gerard Meijssen seems to have been the one who has entered the information in Wikidata linking Panama Papers to persons via the ‘significant event‘ property. How complete he yet has managed to do this I do not know. 

Our Danish Wikipedian Ole Palnatoke Andersen set up a page on the Danish Wikipedia atDiskussion:Panama-papirerne/Wikidata tabulating with the nice Listeria tool of Magnus Manske. Modifying Ole’s SPARQL query we can get the count of occupations for the persons associated with the Panama Papers in Wikidata.

Some people may see that politicians are the largest group, but that might simply be an artifact of the notability criterion of Wikidata: Only people who are somewhat notable or are linked to something notable are likely to be included in Wikidata, e.g., the common businessman/woman may not (yet?) be represented in Wikidata.
The bubble chart cuts letters of the words for the occupation. ‘murd’ is murderer. Joaquín Guzmán has his occupation set to murderer in Wikidata, – without source…
It takes a little time for clear information to emerge when secrecy is the name of the game and it is in the best interests of powerful people to keep it secret.

But it is clear just why the loopholes exist despite pretty well all political parties knowing that they exist, claiming that their opposite parties have not done anything about it, and their own promises to close them will never amount to more than a pinch of shit. 

I wonder if there are secret papers about the C$A taking monies from Peter to pay Peta.

Drink and think.



  1. The little people always try pay their taxes, but shifting regulations mean that they can never be entirely sure that they have complied with rules and regulations. Especially when the rules change and the new rules are retrospectively applied to previous actions of people who were complying with the (confusing) legislation as it applied at the time.

    You quite rightly mentioned the CSA, it had objectives to meet and the easy targets were the men that were already paying maintenance (I have several male friends who were abused by this). They were already visible in the system so they were an easy hit for more money. It didn't target the absent fathers (absent payers), which the new agency was supposed to be finding.

    The current government initiatives are targeting pensioners (DWP) and self employed people (HMRC). Trying to trip them up over shifting legislation and expecting the little person to provide their personal information information, which the government departments are unable to locate!!

    How is all this right!!!

    Rant over (for now) ;-)

    1. Many good and reasonable folk have much to rant about. Like m'self, they can benefit from mopping the floor in the crypt and comparing unfairnesses. The Taxman has his duties which he carries out with diverse effort, but the Politician makes sure that only the taxman gets blamed and never himself.

  2. No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores.

    I agree but one should not be lax, officiously, in paying due tax.

    1. Oh? The good Lord Justice General did not feel the need to address that point. Perhaps he could have made the time but then he might have been inclined to continue in a balanced fashion to mention the gummunt's propensity to bribe voters and grant taxpayers' monies to the most unworthy causes.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..