The language, or rather political language de jour, is for the canvassing potential members of the next parliament (Parliamentary candidates in the UK) to merge two very different concepts into one, in the public’s mind. Those words are tax evasion andtax avoidance. We (at the theMarketSoul) believe we potentially know why, but the consequences might not yet be clearly understood.
At a recent televised debate attended by potential next Business Secretary representatives (politicians who would be in charge of the Business, Innovation and Skills [BIS] department) from the three major political parties, one of the candidates challenged the audience thus:
“You (tax advisers) know the difference between aggressive tax avoidance on the the one hand and tax planning on the other.” No the question was actually this: “Please raise your hand in the audience if you donot know what aggressive tax avoidance is.” From the podium the verdict came that about half the audience raised their hands. And therein lies the problem: Are you making this a moral question now? Because until someone is able to clearly define and explain how morality and tax planning are linked; we at theMarketSoul cannot help but think: Where next in this one sided ‘supposed’ quasi debate?
It really depends on how you ask the question:
Is taxation moral? Is paying tax moral? What level of taxation is moral? Is being moral, paying your taxes? If you don’t pay taxes, are you immoral?
Let’s just pause for a moment: #Tax avoidance talk is all the rage at the moment…
In order to redress the balance of negative sentiment, combined with a political(ly) charged environment with electioneering by all major political UK parties posturing new populist policies (say that fast a few times); we thought it a good idea to put a little perspective on the matter of #Tax avoidance (tax planning we prefer to call it). Remember this is #Election2015 coming up on 7 May 2015.
So HSBC bank (more specifically the Swiss subsidiary of their Private Banking arm) got themselves into difficulty over the past couple of weeks with the BBC Panorama programme revelations as reported by Richard Bilton.
Accused of large scale collusion on tax avoidance or even evasion practices, the liberal and politically left leaning media in the UK have quite rightly got themselves embroiled in a multi-layered debate from both tax avoidance and the morals thereof to standards of editorial judgement, when corporate advertisers are the subject of negative headlines (the Daily Telegraph).
However, to grab a headline back for ourselves (and balance the debate):
“Britain, wake-up, you are a corporate TAX Haven” and to cap it off, you are not that popular with other higher taxing G8 jurisdictions.
The overall corporation tax environment in the UK has significantly improved if you are considering a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) route into the UK over the life-time of this last Conservative-Liberal Democrat led parliament.
With corporate tax rates for both small and large enterprises almost aligned at 20% and 21% respectively from April 2014 onwards, for net profits assessable to corporation tax, the UK is one of the lowest corporate tax regimes in the G20 club.
What are the implications of this?
More FDI is attracted to the UK and therefore the potential to create more jobs and reduce the dependency on government handouts reduced.
What has not yet happened though, is that the tax receipts from corporations subjected to corporation tax in the UK increased significantly. This is partly due to timing issues; Capital and Investment allowances reducing the overall tax take and further aggressive tax avoidance activities by these Multi-National Corporations (MNC).
On the whole the average effective corporation tax rate actually paid in the UK is therefore less than the 21% head line rate for large businesses with profits over £300,000. This is due to the cash tax rate paid by corporations being reduced by capital allowances and research and development credits bringing down the effective rate paid as a percentage of the net profit assessable to corporation tax to well below 21%. These legitimate reductions are known as reliefs.
PwC put together a league table of effective (most attractive to least attractive jurisdictions on that is called “international tax competitiveness”. In 2014 the UK ranked 16th, with only Ireland and Denmark, (two fellow EU member states) beating the UK from the EU member state block.
We will continue to develop this theme over the next few weeks leading up to the general election in the UK.
…[take] the human being out of the market entirely, then we should have a proper, effective and efficient market…?
So might go the refrain of Neo-liberal economics, or at least a slightly different take on the Neo-liberal ideal of ‘every interaction should be a market transaction‘.
That Neo-liberal economic refrain is part of the inspiration behind the creation of the ‘Soul of the Market’ or rather theMarketSoul and this site.
With this last post of 2013, we thought a bit of reflection and a reminder of our inspiration and founding philosophy might be in order.
In order for a market to be effective, there has to be a few ripples in the ebbs and flows of the transactions and interactions making up the market processes. Therefore, we have to be able to tolerate human frailties and flaws, or else the market becomes too mechanistic and dare we say it preordained. This can naturally not be an effective outcome for any market. Human failings and market failure are two sides of the same coin. However, we should work together in order to limit the inevitable damage and negative consequences of both human and market failure. This does not necessarily translate into more regulation, might we add at this juncture.
Let us never forget this and celebrate process frailty, failure, learn to develop and embrace tolerance, persistence and perseverance; basic elements of human nature…
We should never forget our inspiration, put it to aspiration and strive to achieve our own unique and specific dreams.
The US Debt default that is looming ever larger with each passing day that the US Congress, Senate and White House seem to treat as a brinkmanship fatigue challenge will have a specific default structure or process attached to it, that the rest of the world needs to get to grips with very quickly.
What are the consequences:
Because, if Americans are willing to engage in quasi-negotiations with each other on this acrimonious level; then world beware, they will treat you with even more disdain and petulance than they have been treating each other.
And yet, no Creditor Nation of the USA seem in the least bit prepared for the hard bargaining the USA Treasury officials will engage in when the technical default moves into a more serious phase.
This is commercial war on a scale we have not experienced for quite some time.
And the most disparaging part of this process or potential risk is that no commentator has yet stood up and called time on this challenge or at the very least attempted to pull the veil from the threat and fall-out the rest of the world will experience.
Of course 17 October 2013 is a technical default breach days only; because as most business people who experienced bankruptcy will attest to is the fact that you can continue to trade (on the goodwill of your creditors) beyond the point of being solvent, so long as those creditors continue to good-naturedly extend some further credit or payment terms to you.
What can clearly be observed from the Yield Curve for Treasury Bills (T-Bills) dated 30 days is that the spread between 30 September 2013 (at 0.10%) to the rate at 11 October 2013 (0.26%) has significantly increased and that the Yield Curve has become inverted. Normally the sign of a recession or other financial calamity to come.
Will Thursday 17 October 2013 be D-Day (for Disaster or Domino-day) when the whole lot starts tumbling down again?
Today’s post is actually only a short sound bite for further conversations to be developed in the future:
The real burden of the open and free market is the fact that it does not always behave and act in the way the market participants anticipated. [In other words, the market might be open and free but not perceived as fair – a real challenge when the clearance mechanism experiences the odd bottleneck moment, because in the long run, the market should and will always clear and achieve equilibrium].
The burden the market then bears is in the form of interference and regulation…
You must have seen the headlines recently? British wages falling sharply in real terms versus our EU brethren…
We wrote about a particular economic phenomenon referred to in this post about economic cycles and particularly the Kuznets swing; which we find the most interesting and thought provoking cycle. The reason for this is that it is a generational cycle, only lasting or more accurately stated lasting anywhere between 15 – 25 years.
So where are we on this cycle and what does it mean for me, should be the two most obvious questions to answer?
Lets address both separately below.
Firstly we believe we are now around seven years into a downward phase of the Kuznets cycle, therefore to some analysts it would mean that we are either almost half way or to others around a third of the way through this cycle.
Secondly, and more importantly, the impact it has on market participants like all of us:
We believe that the downward phase of a Kuznets swing is the ‘exuberance‘ correcting phase; when markets and other factors of productions contributing to mostly normal market clearing activity ‘got slightly out of kilter’. The Kuznets swing is always there to bring these factors of production into alignment. It is a consolidation phase of the cycle and interestingly for this particular phase, it coincides with disruptive technological advances around Cloud Computing, dis-aggregation of intermediaries, especially in labour markets with labour or skills exchanges appearing everywhere. Examples include, Elance, oDesk, PeoplePerHour, etc..
Furthermore, and this is the most import action point for our readers to understand and appreciate, this consolidation and technological advance has a severe impact of wages levels and the distribution of where actual ‘work’ is being performed.
Hence headlines like the one we spotted this morning regarding real wages in Britain declining relative to other (very unproductive EU cousins) are not helpful without the pundit exploring and engaging n deeper analysis of the underlying drivers for the pressure.
Understand that the world of work is changing much faster than we had ever become used to in previous generations. As active able and willing participants in this market for labour and skills we have clear choices: Up-skill, be competitive appreciate and plan for volatility in the labour supply market, by ensuring flexibility in location, skills and prices. It is especially painful to suffer real wage declines, but remember this is the market’s subtle way of signalling a problem or challenge in that particular market and a way of adjusting in order to restore the natural balance and clearing prices.
We believe every interfering politician and educating commentator should always bear this in mind.