Politicians love to moralise about how we should all be paying our fair share of taxes. Well, can anyone remember non-corporate distribution tax? This tax:
(1) Never appeared in any manifesto.
(2) Was introduced and repealed within the lifetime of one parliament.
(3) Is rather too complicated for the average MP who voted in favour of it to be able to do even the simplest calculations.
Could anybody please explain the morality behind this particular tax? If you are reading this and you were an MP who voted in favour of it, then how do you justify your vote? If you subsequently voted to repeal it, how do you justify your vote? Did you really change your mind about this tax at exactly the same time as several hundred other MPs, or are you just a party hack?
Now let’s say we have a proposal to re-introduce my favourite tax. The proposal is voted through Parliament by six hundred votes to nil. One might say this was evidence of its moral worth. Well it may turn out that six hundred MPs had six hundred different reasons for voting in favour of it, and that many of these reasons are mutually contradictory. There is never any formal proof that this is not the case.
All a judge can ever do is to look at the letter of the law that is actually passed, and enforce that. Concepts such as a “loophole in the law” are meaningless. If we happen to have over-complicated laws, of which non-corporate distribution tax is a prime example, then indeed it gives scope to clever accountants and lawyers to optimise matters in favour of their rich clients. The moral here is to keep the law simple!