"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Ed Lester and The Student Loans Company

We seem to be on a permanent witch-hunt these days for anyone who we can use as a scapegoat for the ills that may be besetting us, or our country. We seem to pick on anyone who might, in our own view, be doing rather better than we are as we struggle with reduced pensions, threatened jobs, unemployment, illness, whatever. Quite often, and more so as time goes by, I feel that these responses by the public have more to do with envy or greed or malice or revenge or a sense of a general lack of fairness; often whipped up, it has to be said, by the media.
When I was young I well remember a girl in my class saying "but please Miss X, that's not fair".
The response we received gave us an idea of how Oliver and the boys must have felt after he had the temerity to ask for "more."
Miss X, (identity disguised to protect the living!) thumped her fist down hard on her desk on the raised dias at the front of the class (the raised platform gave the teachers a superiority and disciplinary advantage over the class.) "Life," she said, "is never fair. And the sooner you girls all understand this, the happier your lives will be."
I forgot much of the Latin she taught us, but I never forgot that one lesson for life.
I wonder now with hindsight whether life had already dealt her an 'unfair' blow. In an 'all girls' school in the late 1950s only three of our teachers were married, and they were, shall we say, of mature age by then, with families of their own. All the rest were young and single, often sharing accommodation with another members of our staff. We never thought about it at the time, but how many of those young ladies, I wonder now, had lost their "sweethearts" in the war? And we certainly never ever thought that there might be anything else behind these relationships! Gay meant happy in those innocent days!
But let's get to the point:
None of us like paying tax, of course we don't. Although many of us accept, albeit sometimes grudgingly, that we see the returns by way of the public services that we use. We certainly like to feel that we are not the only one paying our fair share of tax - whatever that means.
But we are all entitled to claim every allowance available to us to reduce our tax bill, to arrange our tax affairs in such a way as to legally reduce to a minimum the amount we pay. This is tax avoidance and is perfectly legal. Tax evasion is something else. It is dishonest, against the tax laws, and defrauds the Revenue of its rightful tax income.
But where is the line drawn? Because somewhere between the two is a murky area where the scheme a tax payer may use, usually with the help of expensive accountancy advice, is so complex and artificial that it falls outside the spirit even if it is within the strict letter of the law. Private service companies are a very simple, well- established, and legal tax saving device, but they come with their own anti-avoidance rules attached, drawn up to prevent any perceived abuse of the law.
Granted that the media almost certainly don't know the full facts of the case as yet, where is the use of Mr Ed Lester's service company likely to fall along this scale between avoidance and evasion? Does it make any difference that the user of his services is the Student Loan Company and that if they employed him rather than him being employed by his own service company then he would be a civil servant?
The issues here seem to be partly that he is a top public servant, that he is apparently working full time for the Student Loans Company, that not long ago the Government said they were going to cut down on "Tax Avoidance" and that in the present economic mess, the Government proclaim that "we are all in this together."
And so it's not fair, is it?

Photos are at Studland Bay and environs, Isle of Purbeck, Dorset

No comments:

It's Time you knew - by Transition Rachel at YouTube

Many reasons to love La Gomera



with vapor trails


Total Pageviews