Feb 14 2011

Has Toby Young read my book?

A review in the Daily Mail, by Toby Young, with the absolutely horrific headline: Why the super-rich deserve their tax holiday. The article goes on in the same vein – though it does call it a “lively and well written book.”

This is going to go in the category of “Criticism by those who seem not to have read the book” . Which actually means “Criticism by those who seem to have read only parts of the book.” Let’s take his assertion that

“he doesn’t distinguish between tax avoidance and tax evasion.”

Er, I do – quite clearly, and several times. I think I will also create a new category, of “Criticism by those who think offshore abuse is too difficult to tackle so we should just give up.” Into which I will slot this. Here’s just one example of his defeatist approach:

The reason tax avoidance flourishes and will continue to flourish is that no country is going to act unilaterally. Unless you can get past that obstacle you’re never going to solve the problem.

That’s just not true. Countries act unilaterally all the time about this stuff – protecting their tax bases and preventing the super-rich from free-riding on the backs of everyone else. Young might also like to read Martin Wolf in the Financial Times, in a superb article exposing the woolly thinking of people who think the best approach to rich people is to subsidise them, out of terror that they will go elsewhere:

“Non-doms, we are told, make a gigantic contribution to the economy. If they are taxed too heavily, they will depart and the economy will suffer. Again, why not pursue this argument a little further? Should the UK not subsidise the inflow of human capital, just as many countries subsidise inflow of foreign direct investment? What about a negative tax (a subsidy) on all UK income earned by non-doms above, say, £100,000 a year?

Yet this, too, ought to be extended to highly paid citizens who, presumably, also provide big benefits to the economy. Why should the country wish to subsidise people to employ foreigners instead of citizens. So why not give everybody who earns about £100,000 a year a negative tax rate or at least a nice juicy lump sum? Moreover, if having non-dom billionaires resident in London is good, why not subsidise them too? So why not compete for billionaires the way countries compete for investments by Intel and the like?”

Quite so. And now, on Toby Young’s reviews, read this.

2 comments so far

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tax Justice Network, Nicholas Shaxson. Nicholas Shaxson said: New blog post:Has Toby Young read my book? http://bit.ly/gtqpNM, filed in "Criticism by those who seem to have read only parts of the book." […]

Eoghan Mac 2th February, 2011 7.00 pm

Funnily enough a couple of days ago I tried to leave a comment supportive to your view on the Toby Young article. And funnily enough they’ve not published it…

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