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Tax authorities. Do they have God-like powers? Discuss!!

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

I’m in London all this week meeting with key campaigners on UK tax issues and the self-employed.

You might remember this recent news post we put out which summarised the BIG problems that self-employed people have with the UK tax authority (HMRC). Essentially, HMRC is conducting a long-running campaign of ‘double taxing’ self-employed people. Yes, the Brits don’t just have to worry about the cricket and Brexit!! HMRC is attacking self-employed entrepreneurship.

But on Sunday I was walking through London’s Hyde Park and arrived at the historic ‘Speakers’ Corner’. Since the mid-1800s people have stood there on boxes debating the surrounding crowds. There was quite a large crowd with multiple debates occurring when I visited. The dominant language directing debate was Arabic. It was all Greek to me!!

What was instructive in the body language, gestures, voice tone and atmosphere was the passion, seriousness and fire with which people ‘discussed’. But this was tempered with good humour, genuine interest in others’ views and respect. I recorded some of the debate on my phone. View it here.

I asked one gent what was being discussed. He informed me that it was mostly about God and the alternative teachings under Shia vs Sunni Islam. Being in the middle of this rowdy crowd made me feel good about democracy.

But I also reflected on the power of tax authorities. In the Goods and Services Tax legislation in Australia there is a clause that says pretty much the following:
“…the Tax Commissioner can declare something that happened not to have happened and something that did not happen to have happened…”
I once queried Treasury tax officials about this and they saw nothing wrong in the legislation. This makes me worry about democracy.

Perhaps while I’m here in London I need to get with my like-minded campaigners and try and drag some tax officials down to a debate at Speakers’ Corner. The topic would be ‘do, or should, tax officials have power over reality?’

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