UK tax policy: do as I say, not as I do

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George OsborneWhen it comes to tax, quite often the problem with governments is that it's 'do as I say, not as I do'.

This has been evident recently. Chancellor George Osborne has been huffing and puffing around Europe berating countries that are less than transparent when it comes to banking and allow money to be squirrelled away offshore where the UK taxman can't get his hands on it.


He's also been tut-tutting at the multinational businesses that pay piffling amounts of tax on the profits they make in the UK because they plonk their headquarters in a more tax efficient land.

And then of course there's the individual tax dodgers; whether they be doctors or builders, that Gideon won't tolerate paying too little tax. Oh, and for god's sake don't pay your cleaning lady in cash!

All this would be fine if while Osborne hadn't been off challenging everyone else's tax practices, one of HM Revenue & Custom's finest hadn't been caught on film had been extolling the virtues of tax loopholes that give British businesses tax breaks.

Now, on one hand we have to make Britain competitive, businesses must want to come here. But on the other hand, Osborne can't go finger-pointing at every other country over lax tax or low rates then come home and enact the same policies for certain swathes of business.

I'm all for helping British businesses but frankly, Osborne looks a fool.

It is also counterintuitive for Osborne to spout off about big businesses and their less than moral tax arrangement but in the same breath offer them tax breaks to try and entice them to the UK.

The government's tax policy seems to be completely out of sorts and full of mixed messages. Do we want businesses to come to the UK or don't we? Assuming we do, do we then want them to pay tax or do we want to give huge tax breaks?

It's no surprise really that a man who famously siphoned his inheritance offshore to avoid £1.6 million in tax and whose family regularly uses offshore trust, can't make up him mind on whether tax should be paid or not.

If he's serious about clamping down on tax dodging, maybe Osborne would like to bring his trust fund back on shore and write a cheque for a million-odd quid?

I doubt this will ever happen, we have to remember it's; 'do as I say, not as I do'.