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