Me, an extremist?

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I was intrigued by a comment that I noticed had been posted on AccountingWeb. In response to comments that I had posted Steve Pipe, who advises accountancy firms on how to maximise profits, said:

the only thing we really differ on is the judgement call as to what constitutes "acceptable tax planning".

You clearly take a very principled (and extreme) stance on this - which I respect - in that you believe that anything other than what you label as "tax compliance" is immoral.

I on the other hand take a different (and I think more moderate) stance

I always find it odd when I am described as an extremist. Tax compliance is in my definition paying the right amount of tax (but no more) at the right time and in the right place where right means that the economic substance of the transactions undertaken accords with the form in which they are reported for taxation purposes.

To put it more straightforwardly, I am saying that people should pay the tax that they owe.

What I want to know is what is extreme about that? It seems to me that this is exactly what society expects of each and every person who lives within it.

What I also want to know is what a more moderate interpretation of this might be? Could it be that a more moderate version might mean paying most of the tax you owe, with some of it paid in the right place and at least part being paid when due to, with no structure being used being so abusive that it might land you in court? I think that a reasonable approximation, and to be candid one which many accountants would endorse, although I am not saying that Steve Pipe does.

But ask yourself this: which of these is ethical? Which of these can sustain our society? Which of these shows respect for the law? Which of these could be honestly upheld?

The answer is obvious.

I am not an extremist. I am just asking that people do what they would expect of others. Unless, of course, that other person was an accountant. Only in their distorted view can I be described as 'extreme'.