Imaginative MP expenses are not that different from tax avoidance |

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I see I'm not the only person to have noticed this: Nigel Stanley at the TUC has done so as well.

As Nigel says:

Almost every MP has defended what they have done by saying it is within the rules. This is what every company or individual accused of tax avoidance does. Remember tax avoidance is getting round tax law, while tax evasion is breaking tax law.

This is all part of a wider cultural change caused by the great growth of inequality under the Conservatives and Labour’s failure to do much about it, despite some admirable if limited moves on poverty.

I note some disagree though: many comments on my Guardian blog say things like:

The big difference is that people who use tax havens and practise tax avoidance are preserving their own money, whereas the MPs are taking someone else's money. I would say that the two 'offences' are not morally equivalent and that of the MPs is much more serious.

I readily admit I don't get that argument at all. Anyone who avoids paying tax by getting round rules reduces the sum available to the public purse. I can see no difference at all in the offences: both plunder the public purse for private gain.

I quote David Cameron:

Politicians have done things that are unethical and wrong. I don't care if they were within the rules – they were wrong.

Precisely. Exactly the same (and I mean, exactly the same) can be said of tax avoidance.

Tax avoiders should also be writing out cheques. The moral argument is clear: it's equally clear people believe in it.

Now let's get rid of tax haven / secrecy jurisdiction abuse as well.