In a week where Jeremy Corbyn released his tax forms, was accused of being a tax cheat and was then completely exonerated of any wrongdoing (the media got too excited and misunderstood how the tax system works), it’s been interesting to hear many top Tories squirming about their own tax returns being released.
Some, like Chancellor Philip Hammond, have flat out refused to offer any transparency over their own tax dealings.
Others have obfuscated, fudged or blathered their way through various excuses.
Lets have a little look and see what top Tories had to say about their taxes!
Making an appearance on the Andrew Marr Show, Hammond wasted no time laying out that he had “no intention” of publishing his tax returns. He claimed that:
“demonstration politics isn’t helping to create a better atmosphere in British politics.”
He also argued that the very wealthy shouldn’t be required to publish their tax returns:
“That is likely to drive away talent and investors that Britain needs to create the global future that we’re trying to build.”
A counter argument to that is obvious: if millionaires and billionaires are being so slippery about their tax returns that they would be scared to publicly reveal the figures, it suggests they aren’t paying nearly enough of their fair share in taxes.
If they aren’t paying sufficient amounts in tax, why are we so desperate to keep them in the UK system that they profit so freely from?
The Business Minister Margot James came out swinging in support of the the Chancellor:
“I think the Chancellor has got a good point. People have all sorts of legitimate and legal arrangements involving their children and other matters of that nature if they’re earning that sort of money and I think we should respect their privacy.”
British law is well known for its many legal loopholes available to the wealthy that are perfectly legal (although morally dubious), highlighted by the recent scandal over the Duke of Westminster avoiding over £3billion in inheritance tax through legal shenanigans.
The only reason the wealthy elite (whose interests are nakedly protected here by the Business Minister and Chancellor of this Tory government) are eager to avoid transparency is because shining the spotlight on their illicit and dubious practices would rightly anger the public.
There is one rule for the rich and another for the poor. Only a fool would deny the Tories stand with the wealthy against our interests.
Kit Malthouse is a Tory MP and a member of the Treasury Committee. You would imagine that a person in his position might favour openness regarding taxes but no. Questioned about whether he would personally offer up his tax returns, he said:
“No I wouldn’t. I do think there should be some limits on privacy that politicians are entitled to and that’s one of them. We have a tradition in this country of people’s tax affairs being confidential.”
Evoking a similar message to the Chancellor about the tradition of tax secrecy ignores the ongoing scandal of the wealthiest benefiting from the UK’s secretive tax laws and tries to hide behind the thin veneer of respectability offered by the British establishment.
May has previously published her tax return but has no plans to do it again following her rapid ascent to the Prime Minister’s office at Number 10. Her spokesman offered this quite messy statement rejecting the possibility of any more than the one off gesture:
“The Prime Minister published her tax return in July as part of the Conservative leadership process and there’s no commitment then and there’s no sort of long-standing convention to publish and no current plans to do so. You saw it in July, there are no further plans for the moment.”
The Prime Minister has become famous for evading any possibility of an answer at PMQs. She has obviously decided to adopt this new stance for her taxes too.