Can we call Margaret Hodge a tax avoider now?
MARGARET Hodge is the Labour MP who currently chairs the Public Accounts Committee in the Commons. Yes, I know, dreary minutiae only a politics geek could enjoy.
Except, except….it’s Mrs. Hodge who last week was lambasting Google, Amazon and Starbucks for their tax avoidance. Even, at one point, going so far as to say that of course no one thought it was illegal but was it immoral?
Since then it’s become apparent that Mrs. Hodge has shares in a family business. A pretty big business it is too, £billions in turnover. And they seem to have been, erm, “interesting ” in the way they account for tax. In much the same ways as Google and Amazon etc. Absolutely legal of course, no one doubts that at all: but is it immoral.
So far of course this is all just normal: enjoying watching a politician hoist on the petard of their own rhetoric, nothing more. But where it really becomes fun is in Mrs. Hodges defence of her actions:
She added her direct holding was 1.26pc while shares are held in trust for her family, children and grandchildren.
Just think about that for a moment. The reason you put things into trust is so that the kiddies can inherit them without having to pay inheritance tax. That is, a trust is a tax avoidance move. An entirely legal one but is it immoral?
Or another way we could describe Mrs. Hodges defence: I’m not into tax avoidance with the company because I’m already avoiding tax on my shareholdings.
Good one, isn’t it?