The Big 4 accountants do know the difference between tax avoidance and tax planning. Take this by Kairo Thuo in the Kenyan Standard. Kairo is a manager with Deloittes:
We should all plan for taxes to ensure that we only have to pay what we have to pay. The best way to plan for taxes is to plan transactions to ensure that they have the least tax burden. This is where the difference between tax planning and tax avoidance comes in.
A tax avoidance plan commences with the desired results, consequently forcing documentation to tally with the desired results. In a tax plan, one starts with the desired transaction, not results.
The difference between the two is not just a matter of semantics. A tax avoidance scheme can usually be identified because the procedure in place supports the tax position, it may fail to support the other elements of the transaction (as is the case where tax evaders suppress their turnover only to find that their financials do not impress the bank manager).
The beauty about tax planning is that there is no risk of anyone challenging the taxpayer as they are not tax driven.
I agree with him. I also agree with his comment that:
Let us take the case of MPs. Forget about their salaries and retirement packages, but focus on the fact that have managed to pass laws that protect their hefty packages from taxation.
The case of MPs is one of institutionalised tax avoidance. There is nothing illegal with the MPs not paying taxes as there is no law that they are breaking. However, we would agree it is immoral for them not to pay taxes.
So, here we have the Big 4 in Africa saying there is a moral dimension to tax.
Now why can't they say that elsewhere. I'm massively encouraged by this, and the courage of Kairo Thuo in saying it.