The Malawi Government desperately needs money to tackle poverty. Yet a 1955 tax treaty with the UK is tying their hands and making it nearly impossible to collect tax from UK companies operating there. The tax treaty is so old that it was signed by the British Governor on behalf of the British colonies of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
Tax avoidance is now scarcely out of the news, and many companies have faced huge reputational damage for playing fast and loose with the rules. Alongside the urgent reforms to regulation that are required, good businesses should recognise that they too must play their part. The world expects nothing less from corporations and their leaders.
The Chancellor can't have it all. As much as he likes to hang out in a hard-hat, cutting public services to their knees is not a good look. Up to now the burden of deficit reduction has fallen on some of the poorest in society, but he has had to start reaching into working tax credits to make savings, provoking the ire of leading members of his party and the Sun newspaper...
We must not allow a situation to arise where the focus is merely on increasing government income, without ensuring adequate accountability mechanisms are in place to ensure the tax money raised is spent wisely. And as we know only too well from our experience in Ireland, a healthy civil society is absolutely vital in that regard.
Those who still have a sentimental attachment to children shouldn't worry: Duncan Smith is in the process of redefining child poverty so you won't have to hear about the suffering his policies create as their experiences grow more miserable but they fit within a happier category. If NI and income tax are joined, expect to see the welfare state look radically different within a very short time.
Public demand for better services requires increased revenue, but international market competition for capital and labour drives down the ability of any one country to raise either corporate or personal income tax. For any aspiring Labour leader, the issue of UK tax rates has become a straight jacket. The obvious answer has to be to raise revenue some other way.
In times of austerity, such policies inexorably exacerbate the already alarming issue of inequality. Britain is currently the only G7 country with wider inequality than at the turn of the century. Right now, the top ten percent own over fifty-four percent of Britain's wealth and Britain's five richest families own more wealth than the bottom twenty percent.