Friday, 11 March 2011

The Second Day of Lent

The second day of lent was last Thursday and whilst Lent is supposed to be a time of fasting and self denial I confess that on that evening I was eating handsomely as a guest of the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisors at Stationers Hall. They are the nice people who, hopefully, one can turn to to mitigate the predations of HMRC. Getting money back from the Revenue by way of a refund is of course always joyous until you realise it's not a windfall it's your own money you're getting back. Maybe getting money back influenced the design of the Master's badge, pictured below, which shows money tumbling out of a bag, perhaps towards a happy recipient.                             
It was a very full hall with many Masters and other dignitaries all of whom, over 20 in number, the Middle Warden managed to mention individually in a welcome to the guests, in probably not more than 5 minutes. A tour de force I thought. It was to a degree a  female centric event as the Master is a Lady and the Guest Speaker was Dame Barbara Mills QC, probably best known for having been in charge of the Crown Prosecution Service as part of a glittering career. The speeches by both were engaging and thoughtful but I was somewhat stunned to hear expressed the aphorism 'taxation is a matter of law not of morality'. Indeed taxation is a matter of law and there is a clear line between avoidance and evasion. But the suggestion that taxation legislation is completely devoid of any moral dimension is at best disheartening. Admittedly the law makers in Parliament are sullied by the expenses scandal of last year but to suggest that they have no moral compass when making taxation law is a lowering thought.

However on a happier note I leave you with my favourite taxation quotation which should become the recruitment roll call of what is, to us lesser mortals, an arcane profession:

    'The avoidance of taxation is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward'
                                                                                                           John Maynard Keynes

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