We’ve found a witch

We must be used by now to stories in the media highlighting the apparent shenanigans that companies get up to in their efforts to pay less tax.  Much of this may be justified but I wonder if things are going too far.  Yesterday, The Sunday Times business section ran a story that began with a line saying that Google had “slashed its American tax bill”.  With such pejorative language I assumed Google must be up to no good but the story then went on to explain.  Google had reduced its taxable profits by paying its staff bonuses. Rather absurdly, the article was trying to imply that something underhand must be happening because an employer was paying its staff!  It’s like saying that a fish and chip shop had “slashed its tax bill” by buying cod and potatoes!

Where tax is concerned, we seem to be heading back to the atmosphere of Salem, Massachusetts in the late 17th century.  There, an outbreak of paranoia against witchcraft saw a series of now infamous trials where 200 people were tried as witches, of whom 20 were executed with 5 more dying in squalid jail conditions. Two years after the trials ended, the court that convicted the ‘witches’ admitted they were wrong and eventually a bill was passed restoring the good name of all those accused and granting compensation to the heirs of the deceased.

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t some dodgy things going on in the tax world but do remember, just because someone has a wart on their nose, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a witch!

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