Mark Steel: I'd like to be taken for lunch by the taxman

You have to congratulate these companies for managing to pull this trick off

Share
Related Topics

This country must be about to become dazzlingly liberal. Because it's been revealed that the Inland Revenue "negotiated" with big business about their tax bills, often over lunch, and then let them off £25bn. As the Government insists we're all in it together, this must be how they'll deal with everyone now. Menacing clerks with clipboards will knock on a door and say, "We have photographic evidence you've been working on a building site while claiming social security. Game's up, sonny, it's time you answered some questions.

"To start with, do you like fish because there's a wonderful new restaurant with a fascinating menu by the river and we'd be delighted if you could come to discuss your fraudulent benefits and you simply MUST bring the couple next door that pretend they're not co-habiting so we can knock around some figures and clear this up. Ciao."

A BBC reporter explained that the tax office couldn't be blamed for settling at the amounts it did, because the companies have lawyers who might have disputed a higher amount, so at least this way the tax office gets something. This is a novel attitude towards economics, and means there will be no more tax forms full of complicated questions. Instead the form will just go, "Have you got a good lawyer? If yes, go to question 2", which will say, "How much do you fancy paying, if anything?" So the whole system will be much more concise and easier for everyone.

The entire economy could be re-ordered in this way. You'll be able to walk into Sainsbury's with a lawyer, wheel out a loaded trolley, chuck them a fiver and they'll be delighted to have got that much so everyone's happy.

You have to congratulate these companies for pulling this trick off. Usually, the Department of Work and Pensions takes no excuses, no matter how forlorn, so Goldman Sachs must have come over as REALLY desperate. I expect the managing director said that they're really sorry but his salary wasn't due for three days and he'd run out of cash so he's been walking nine miles to a well for water but met a leper on the way so dipped into the 14 million put by for tax to get him some antiseptic cream and he's really really sorry.

The best way to measure the scale of this leniency towards big business is to note that the front page of yesterday's Daily Telegraph complained of "Double standards by taxman" and the Daily Mail screamed, "Big firms let off £25 BN in taxes". When you've forced those two to yell that businesses should pay more tax, it's like being on a night out with Charlie Sheen and he says to you, "I'm going home, you're just going over the top now."

And this is all for our benefit, because we have to be prepared to pay the global market rate for thieving bastards, otherwise they'll leave the country and thieve from somewhere else, and THEN where will that leave us?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: With 100 days still to go how will Cameron, Miliband and Co. keep us all engaged?

Andrew Grice
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea