How dodgy are we?

Prospect Magazine

How dodgy are we?

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People are less angry at illegal practices by individuals than legal avoidance by companies

Liars, cheats and crooks have always been with us. So have accountants who hunt for fancy tax loopholes on behalf of greedy clients. We have never liked any of them; but when times were good, the economy was motoring and government had money to spend, we worried more about other things. Today, when money is tight, the mood is different. Tax-dodging and welfare-fiddling are not only morally offensive; they also starve the government of revenue it badly needs. The cost to the rest of us, in higher taxes or lower public spending, is more keenly felt.

But which affronts us more: the moral turpitude or the lost cash—the welfare cheats who lie in order to claim extra benefits, or the millionaires who tell no lies and use legal, but artificial, means to minimise their tax bill?

YouGov’s latest poll for Prospect suggests that, when push comes to shove, rich tax

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  1. April 10, 2013

    P K

    It seems to me that there may be another explanation for people being more concerned about dodgy activities at the top of the food chain than at the bottom than simply the amounts of money involved. It is a perception that a moderate amount of low-level corruption in the lower and middle ranges of society can be handled. However, if abuse by the rich and powerful is not challenged the effect on society as a whole could be corrosive: much larger numbers of people at all levels will be willing to engage in illegal avoidance.

    For example, there is a perception that this is what happened in Greece. Whether this perception is accurate or not is another matter, but I believe that these kind of considerations could well have influenced the answers that were given to this poll.

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