There’s none so blind

Posted on

I noted the following comment had been written on a blog a while back:

Richard Murphy is an expert in a field which he and journalists have created - analysing the tax charges in published accounts and comparing them with the headline rate. Not rocket science, and it hardly makes him an expert on tax avoidance any more than staring into the night sky makes one an expert in astronomy. ...

Neither, as far as I am aware, is he an expert in ethics, and it is his (and seemingly your) blunt assertion that tax avoidance is immoral and unethical which seems to me to be unproven and which should be, and currently isn't, the subject of considered debate.

The author of the blog, a chap called John Kavanagh, says of himself:

I am Director of Private Clients in the London office of Shaws, Chartered Tax Advisers. I advise on all aspects of tax affecting private clients, with an emphasis on non-domiciliaries and offshore strategies.

It's curious that he is so condemnatory. I do at least have qualifications in economics, accounting and (by implication) tax which would seem to qualify me for the task he purports I undertake. It would appear he does not have the first two, but is happy to say that what I do is not rocket science anyway. He ignores the fact that creating something that appears simple can, in fact, take a lot more time than creating complexity.

As for the suggestion that the ethics of tax avoidance are not being debated, I can only guess he's either not read this site or that he has his head in the sand so that he does not notice the debate that is going on in such thongs as newspapers on the issue, and to which I contribute. Where else might be expect that debate to happen if not in blogs and newsprint?

Or could this be a case that there is none so blind as he who does not wish to see, coupled with a desire to shoot the messenger? If so, John Kavanagh is very typical of many in his profession.

He could of course resolve the matter: why not have a debate with me in the ethics of tax avoidance? It would seem that this is something that very many who propose it are extremely reluctant to do.

Note added 13.45 on 6.5.08:

Maybe John Kavanagh would like to look at this before saying more, and even have a look at my note on methodology. He may say there's no ethical issue in this, but note that Action Aid have shown that if just 14 companies paid the tax society expects of them (much of which they defer) then enough could be raised to ensure that every child in the world who is not currently receiving a formal primary education gets into school. If that's not an ethical dimension to this issue, what is?