2,000 cases of tax avoidance – one persistent culture of tax abuse

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The BBC has found that 2,000 civil servants are being paid through their own limited companies. That lets them split their income with others, reducing the income tax bill; pay dividends to avoid a national insurance bill and claim expenses an employee could not offset.

When these people are employees that's obviously wrong. HMRC are clear on the point. But top civil servants have turned a blind eye.

That ignoring the requirements of law is worrying in itself. It indicates a civil service that has been corrupted by greed and the ethos of personal gain.

But it also very clearly suggests that there's a culture in place that thinks tax avoidance is acceptable. That's more important - because tax avoidance undermines democracy by denying to governments the funds reasonably due to them. When the civil service can't see that we're in trouble.

2,000 tax avoiders is an issue. The cultural issue is a much more important one.