New Direction?

March 13, 2014

So if you believe what you read in the papers, boy band One Direction are asking their fans to lobby the Chancellor in favour of maintaining the foreign aid budget at its current level and to crack down on corporate tax avoidance.

Well… actually they are offering two tickets to each of their concerts via a lottery, and to enter the lottery you have to take part in various actions on a campaigning website each of which  gets you “points”.  If you amass twenty points you can enter the lottery, and you could amass twenty without lobbying George at all.  But still.  If you’re over 30, either say nothing at all or just say “bless” and applaud the sentiment.

You might think that One Direction are treading on dangerous ground because, as the newspapers are quick to point out, their own corporate structure is, um, efficient because, tax competitiveness.

However let’s assume all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, and that there will be millions of teenage girls lobbying the Chancellor for tax changes in the Budget…

Whatever might they ask?

Well, if they are really interested in corporate tax avoidance, they might lobby for an end to tax competitiveness as an objective of tax policy.  They aren’t the same thing, of course, but it’s hard to fix avoidance – it takes money and resources, and we apparently don’t have any.  But tax competitiveness is a government policy.  It’s the idea we should lower our taxes so that firms will base themselves here.  It was one of the four objectives for tax policy agreed in the Coalition agreement (para 29) and, according to KPMG’s latest survey of tax competitiveness it’s been achieved.  We’re up there in the global competitiveness stakes.

“Even better, the results suggest there is no need for a ‘race to the bottom’ on rates with few respondents calling for further rate cuts.”

See George?  You could mark that one as “job done” and just stop.  Let the One Direction fans turn tax policy in, no, sorry, I have to say it, a New Direction.

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