Bush Free School founder Toby Young has cemented his reputation as something of a conservative firebrand by provocatively placing an article in the Telegraph (where else) arguing that tax avoidance is not morally wrong, in fact it is "sensible" practice which should not be condemned.
Here's what the Free Schooler has to say:
The moral case for forcing the rich to pay more tax isn’t as clear-cut as Shaxson seems to think. One of the more amusing chapters in Treasure Islands concerns the Vesteys, for many years Britain’s wealthiest family, who Shaxson treats as a case study in financial chicanery. But as Edmund Vestey says: “Let’s face it, nobody pays more tax than they have to.”What do you think?
When you think about it that’s true. And far from being immoral, it’s perfectly rational. This argument was neatly summed up by Conservative thinker Andrew Lillico: “If you buy freshly squeezed orange juice, the price includes VAT. If you buy standard concentrated orange juice, there is no VAT. So if a key reason you buy concentrated orange juice is that it is cheaper, you are avoiding paying VAT. Is that wrong? Spirits incur higher alcohol excise duty than beer. So if you would fancy a whiskey but consider the price a bit steep and so buy beer, you are avoiding paying tax. Is that wrong?”
The answer is patently no. Indeed, governments routinely increase taxes on certain things – such as cigarettes – in the hope that we will alter our behaviour as a consequence and avoid buying them. It would be odd if a government told us it was perfectly right and proper for ordinary citizens to engage in tax avoidance, but not the rich. Just because there’s more money at stake doesn’t make it immoral.