News recently came out that a few well-known celebs — among them, George Michael, the Arctic Monkeys, Sir Michael Cane and a loan shark convicted of rape — took to a (legal) tax scheme called Liberty in the UK to avoid taxes. 1,600 people are believed to have sheltered £1.2 billion in Liberty.
The Times (subscription) was leaked a secret database of participants and wasted no time publicly shaming them. Why are they doing such a thing? Patriotism, natch:
Personal tax avoidance costs the economy at least £5 billion a year. Although legal, the practice is condemned by all political parties.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, calls aggressive avoidance “morally repugnant”. Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, is even blunter. “People who don’t pay the taxes damage our public services and place an extra, unfair burden on families and companies who play by the rules.”
Worse, some of those implicated were actually thought to be the good guys. Case in point, this chick:
Singer Katie Melua put £850,000 into the scheme in 2008 and two years later was nominated for Christian Aid's Tax Superhero award after saying she paid nearly half her income in tax. The paper reports that she has since paid the tax due on the sheltered money.
If you aren't aware, Christian Aid campaigns for tax justice, claiming that tax dodging costs poor countries $160 billion a year. Oopsie.