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John Passant

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September 2009



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Tax advisers – vultures on humanity

Tax advisers are vultures on humanity.

They feed on our living flesh with their demands for exorbitant sums for their knowledge of arcane tax laws. 

We mere mortals bow before these Delphic oracles and shower them with gifts for their ill-gotten insights.

The bottom feeders eat the droppings of ordinary taxpayers and charge us for the privilege.

The Big Four accountancy groups and major law firms are the sharks in the cesspool of this voracious feeding frenzy.

Their tax advice to capital earns them big money, jacks up prices and deprives the revenue – ordinary workers in other words – of cash for hospitals, schools and roads.

This Ebola virus on humanity’s flesh is about to dominate tax policy.

Labor is privatising  the development of tax policy, and guess which group of vampires wants to suck our blood in doing this?  Yes – so called tax experts, the carrion comfort of capitalism.

All the revenue gluttons are there – the big four, some industry groups, some peak bodies, so called second tier firms, lawyers and even academics – vying to win a spot at the table of tax delights.

To make this absolutely clear – the big firms who earn big money from advising big business to avoid big tax will now be helping Treasury develop tax policy.

Their weltanschauung is the same – reducing taxes on capital  ‘frees up’ the economy. 

They have a ready ally and willing partner in Treasury.

How can such people know or indeed care about the role of labour in creating all the productive wealth of society or our material interest in fully funded public schools and hospitals?

These advisers have spent their whole working life rutting with the bourgeoisie. When you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.

Remember Labor’s backdown on taxing employee shares? Evidently this ‘mistake’ came about because Labor didn’t have enough termites in the wood of revenue advising them.

Hang on.  Labor’s problem on employee share schemes wasn’t that it went too far; it was that it didn’t go far enough and tax these abominations out of existence.

Expect more of the same from the infested and infected Tax Design Advisory Panel when the interests of capital are threatened even in the smallest way by a mild Treasury proposal.

The praetorian guards of capital will defend to the death the interests of their masters.

Tax reform will become the plaything of the rich; even more so than it is at the moment.

Tax law, even that which applies to ordinary workers, is complex because it is based on outdated concepts of income and capital, and because it is a disguised grants scheme, handing out nearly $100 billion to, in many cases, the undeserving rich. 

Much of the need for workers to pay tax accountants to do their tax returns is because of this complexity.

Much of the need for big business to employ accountants and lawyers is to use this complexity for its own bottom line advantage against the community and against their competitors.

Business sees tax as a cost, not a contribution to the community, and so takes action to reduce those costs.

Some businesses are real risk takers in tax and other areas. 

James Hardie shifted its headquarters for tax reasons (from Australia to the US to the Netherlands to Ireland evidently) using the same risk approach that saw them mine and peddle asbestos death and try to legally manoeuvre to avoid the consequences.

Those who advised James Hardie on its tax affairs or have a similar mindset could, if they won a seat on the Panel, now be heavily influencing tax policy and tax law.

They already have a major say in tax administration. 

When the Government  proposed a simpler tax system – the tax value method – guess who opposed it?

That’s right, the very  tax industry whose fees would have been reduced and who now want to sit on the Tax Design Advisory Panel.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions represents over 2 million workers. 

Why aren’t they on Labor’s Tax Design Advisory Panel to present a slightly different view on tax to Government, one reflecting in however a warped fashion the interests of workers?

The fact that they won’t be shows you the reality of this panel – a cornucopia for capital.

Expect nothing but reactionary proposals from this capital dominated Panel.

This is not reform on the ALP’s part; it is yet another example of Labor’s ongoing and complete capitulation to capital.

Readers might also like to read: Why won’t Labor tax the rich?, Rudd’s Howard continuity: tax cuts for the rich, Real tax reform: a love letter to Ken Henry and The privatisation of tax law design in Australia



Comment from Arjay
Time September 8, 2009 at 1:01 am

This can be said also about lawyers who create the laws for litigation.It is the tax office that created the rod for it’s own back and ours.

If you want to reduce tax then take away from banks the ability to create inflationary money.This will mean trashing the Bretton Woods agreement of 1940,and then we will be free of the international loan sharks.

Our balance of payments deficit is over $600 billion due mainly to debt and Kevin will soon add $315 billion to our national debt.

We do not have to borrow monopoly money from the international counterfeiters in order to initiate productivity.Money is just the oil that lubricates the engine.

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Time September 8, 2009 at 2:14 am

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Comment from John
Time September 8, 2009 at 7:20 am

Good point about the tax lawyers Arjay (of which I was one.) Let me plead that some tax lawyers (e.g. the ATO) supported the Tax Value method but were thwarted, and that the input we had was to the impact of policy on administration and constrained by the given of policy and the wider economic constraints on thinking that capitalism imposes.

That’s all true but I remember a colleague and I decided it might make more sense for us to stand out the front of the ATO and ask people if they ha a turnover of more than a billion a year. If they did we’d write them cheque for a hundred million dollars.

So yes, I guess I am a brother of the vultures. Maybe that makes me eminently qualified to write about the privatisation of tax policy.

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