Opinion: The Paradise Papers may be legal, but they are morally reprehensible

The Paradise Papers.

Yes, you read correctly, the Panama Papers are old news.

In Britain, we’re lucky enough to have a new huge leak of offshore financial dealings involving high profile public figures every few years.

And the Paradise Papers are the hottest new legal tax-avoidance scandal.

It turns out that those at the top, the politicians who supposedly run the country, the British celebrities who claim to love this country (Lewis Hamilton and your private jet, I’m looking at you) and the businesses who use our workforce to make a profit, have craftily chosen to avoid paying the high tax rates that match their very high earnings.

They avoid paying into the system by hiring accountants who use complex financial structures which deposit their money into offshore accounts, in order to pay a significantly lower tax rate.

And the worst part of this immoral, financial secrecy enjoyed by the rich and powerful, is that it is completely legal.

There’s no legal reprimand for the world’s most profitable firm, Apple, who have avoided billions in taxes.

Despite making $44.7bn worth of profits (excluding the US), they paid a pathetic $1.65bn in taxes to foreign governments. That is just a measly 3.7%.

This is a clear and cut case. Corporations are point blank refusing to repay their fair share into the society they scrounge off.

Employers need a healthy, educated, housed workforce who live in safe environments to make a profit.

Yet as soon as a substantial profit is made, these companies will go above and beyond, using the most complex, well thought out, financial structures to pay as little as they can into the system they thrive off.

That’s gratitude for you.

Deep down, we all know there are fat cats sitting at the top of all business, enjoying their saucer of milk but refusing to pay the milkman in full.

However, it was quite a surprise, even for a cynic like me, to find out the Queen had £10million in the exotic offshore havens of the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

Some of these funds, funnelled through the low tax rate system, went to the immoral electrical store BrightHouse, which offer high interest monthly payments to low-income families and has been branded an “irresponsible lender”.

The same woman who sits with a bejewelled crown on her head reading out the same government speech year on year about how we need to “tighten our belts” in an age of austerity, is deliberately moving her money to low tax rate havens to avoid paying our public services the money they are due.

It’s hypocrisy at its finest.

Let’s make no mistake, while these immoral systems which deprive our society of the money it desperately needs to pay teachers, road workers, firefighters and police officers, are sadly, “legal”, it is a privilege afforded to the rich.

Your average Joe Blogs can’t afford to hire an accountant to reduce his tax earnings. None of us can. It’s the 1% who yet again refuse to pay into the services they leech off. This tax avoided money is money the government expects to be paid and when it disappears into the exotic offshore Bermuda air, a hole is left.

It is this hole, dug by the rich and powerful, that see our NHS have even longer waiting times, our police services be cut even more and our schools desperately underfunded.

People must be held to account.

Elizabeth Day

journo student at Uni of Sheffield, News Contributor for @forgepress, southerner, enthusiastic about everything from politics to lipstick

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