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Tax avoidance / John McDonnell Photo Credit: The Sun

In the year 1752, today never happened. Not in England, at least.

September 7th marked the middle of eleven non-existent days that became necessary for England to adopt the Gregorian calendar, and so become chronologically aligned with our continental neighbours – most of which had already converted to the new system. Eurosceptic opposition Tories crowed their opprobrium, demanding Europe give us our eleven days back.

Prior to the change, the date of the end of the financial year had been March 25th, the day when annual tax payments were due. The eleven day deletion is the reason why this date is now April 5th. The government went so far as to delete time to ensure taxes were paid without loss to public coffers.

Since 2012, the combined UK profits of companies Google, Uber, Netflix, Apple, British American Tobacco and Tate & Lyle amount to billions of pounds. During this time, each of these businesses had years in which they paid precisely nothing of the 20% corporation tax required of them. Google hadn’t paid any at all until last year, when then-chancellor George Osborne negotiated a deal with the company, in which Google paid £130million in back taxes to cover the previous decade.

In 2012 alone, Google generated £3.4bn of business in the UK. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell called for a National Audit Office inquiry into this sweetheart deal.

This week, McDonnell announced that, should Labour gain power, a priority would be the recruitment of hundreds of extra tax inspectors – the conservative estimate being that doing so would garner £36bn from those currently avoiding tax payments. With this estimate increasing dramatically with the closure of loopholes and morally tenuous tax breaks cynically exploited by international conglomerates, as well as in areas such as healthcare, where private hospitals are taking advantage of registered charity status tax cuts and receiving discounts of 80%.

Conversely, NHS Trusts – not eligible for such tax breaks – are suffering at the implementation of business rates system changes that will see their costs rise 21% over the next five years to £1.83bn.

McDonnell’s proposal is in stark contrast to the current situation, in which five thousand HMRC staff are to lose their jobs due to the closure of 170 tax offices across the UK.

In the Budget prior to the snap General Election, the much-vaunted reboot of the tax system in which companies would be obliged to complete a tax return every quarter was one of many policies the Tories reneged on. An act undertaken merely to appease the worries of their core voters, with the policy’s dismissal being further evidence of the lack of Tory willingness to reap fair tax revenues – and their being terrified that this would be at the expense of remaining in power. The Conservatives are demonstrably the party of tax avoidance and evasion.

In spite of the Labour manifesto being fully costed, there remained the inevitable criticisms concerning how its cited policies could be implemented from a financial perspective.

The Labour Party’s stance on fair and appropriate taxation, combined with its resolve to acquire what is owed to general society should put any objective qualms to rest.

Indeed, due to its concise, coherent and inherent truth, one of the more powerful soundbites of the General Election was Jeremy Corbyn’s condemnation of the Tory party as being:

Strong against the weak and weak against the strong.

In 1752, the government went so far as to delete time in order to ensure taxes were paid appropriately. During the economic turmoil of 2017, the government’s response is to make tax inspectors redundant.

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