The 1929 case of Ayshire Pullman Motor Services & Ritchie versus the
Inland Revenue makes the tax position perfectly clear, “No man in
this country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, to
arrange his legal relations to business or to his property so as to
enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest shovel into his store”
“The taxpayer is entitled to be as astute to prevent, as far as he
honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Revenue”
Charles Oliver, SW London.
From that time or even before, the distinction between tax avoidance
which is perfectly legal and tax evasion which is a criminal offence
has also been perfectly clear – albeit in marginal court cases the
law needs to be clarified – very different from the law being
changed, which is the responsibility of Parliament not the Courts.
Also, for centuries, it has been understood in this country that
retrospective legislation is pernicious and wrong. i.e. that people’s
actions must be judged in the context of then current laws.
Now we both are being breached, due to a certain G Brown and certain
Both have tried to muddy the waters by failing to distinguish between
legal avoidance and illegal evasion, and by retrospectively changing
the rules to claim tax retrospectively in cases where tax avoidance
that was legal at the time becomes “aggressive” avoidance after the event.
My view is perfectly clear – it is the task of the authorities to
write the rules to enable the Revenue to extract whatever tax the
Government needs, and it is the absolute right of the public, within
those rules, to pay as little as they legally can. The uncertainty –
and the media publicity directed at those who have legitimately paid
as little as possible are no sensible way to run a tax system.
But what can we expect given the ever-lower competence of so many in