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This is a question First World Problems

Onemunki says: We live in a world of genuine tragedy, starvation and terror. So, after hearing stories of cruise line passengers complaining at the air conditioning breaking down, what stories of sheer single-minded self-pity get your goat?

(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 12:00)
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Greeks wailing about the state of their country.
How it's all the fault of the Euro.

Very few seem to want to pin the blame on themselves for allowing and encouraging decades of tax evasion and high level political corruption as if it was a National Sport.

They were comfortable taking out huge Euro loans and exploiting EU subsidies and grants to replace their Tractors with Porsche Cayennes. Details

I know several Greeks including some who have well-off parents who have thrived on tax evasion. When questioned about the new investigations and how it will affect her father one admitted that he had just had to pay a 20,000 euro fine for undeclared properties. This is just one out of so many.

Greeks. What is happening is terrible, but you, your fathers and your fathers fathers are all to blame. Not Ze Germans.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 13:44, 10 replies)
Don't forget the likes of Goldman Sachs who helped them hide it all in the credit swaps
It's a right bugger's muddle.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 13:56, closed)
That item on Porsche Cayennes
was efficiently debunked on Radio 4's 'More Or Less' last year. It turns out that Porsche haven't sold anywhere near as many Cayennes in Greece as there are people who declared over EUR 50k. That's not to say that plenty of Greeks haven't profited from tax evasion.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 13:56, closed)
I heard that programme too
Though in truth, you only had to see "The Telegraph" at the head of that article to know it was bollocks.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 17:11, closed)

Britain loses 11 times more to tax avoidance than benefit fraud, and is currently propping up the finance sector with handouts.

Pots, kettles and that.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 14:41, closed)
Tax avoidance is just that - it is AVOIDING tax that you are not legally bound to pay. ISA's, pension plans and a whole host of other financial instruments and methods of tax planning are all entirely legitimate schemes that are legally defined as tax avoidance in the UK.

Tax EVASION is not paying tax that you are legally obliged to pay. There is a great difference - prime amongst them being that one is entirely legal and the other is not.

People may be morally outraged by tax avoision, but it is entirely legitimate and entirely legal.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 17:56, closed)
I wasn't expressing moral outrage, merely pointing out that we are also rather inept when it comes to taxes. Chiding the Greeks for having a budget deficit and a porous tax code while yourself having a budget deficit and and a porous tax code: pots, kettles, etc.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 19:03, closed)
Not moral outrage, I just get frustrated with people not understanding the difference between the two (yes - I work in Wealth Management, though not for much longer). The UK can't lose money through tax avoision, as it is not money that it is absolutely entitled to.

I s'pose the difference between the two countries is the attitude towards reducing the deficit. Whereas the UK is taking active steps to curtail government spending, the Greek austerity plans were laughable until the EU took further measures to intervene. What's interesting is that a lot of the people who are suffering most are the ones who remain the quietest. Example - a neurosurgeon in Greece employed by the state now earns the same as I earnt in an entry level job almost a decade ago straight after leaving school. But I digress.

As aother aside - you may think that the UK's tax system is porous, but in actuality it's one of the most efficient taxation systems in the World, and a system that the majority of other countries look towards before bringing in new legislation.

Hmm. Not sure where I was going with that now, but apologies if you took offence.
(, Fri 2 Mar 2012, 0:46, closed)
In the main that's true, though there are plenty of cases (i.e. legal cases) that were being brought against some of the more borderline avoidance techniques (which were new, complex or unusual enough that it wasn't entirely clear that they weren't in fact evasion) where legislation hasn't kept pace.

Those are technically avoidance, but only because they haven't been tested in court and found to be evasion. Vodafone (among others) had made provision in their accounts to pay up to about $4bn for one particular scam until the chief exec of HMRC took it upon himself, against his own legal advice, to shakes hands on it and drop the case.

So while, in the number of ways taxes go without being paid, I'm sure you're correct that by far the majority are legitimate avoidance, in the volumes of potential tax going unpaid through the use of those methods, the difference between legal avoidance and illegal evasion is altogether less clear.

Only a small number of methods are questionable legally and/or morally, but vast sums get funnelled through those methods because they're the ones only available to the megarich and to big multinational corporations.
(, Fri 2 Mar 2012, 12:28, closed)
But we on the UK blame benefit frauds, companies not paying tax bills and twattish bankers for the plight of our country -- only a few here blame Europe for our financial problems.
(, Fri 2 Mar 2012, 16:19, closed)
History of evasion in Greece
Nearly forty years ago, during my first holiday in Greece, I asked why so many buildings still had steel reinforcing bars sticking out of the roofs. I was told this was so they could avoid paying taxes on them by claiming they were unfinished and "one day" would have another floor added. What hope is there for a country where people can get away with this behaviour.
(, Tue 6 Mar 2012, 3:24, closed)

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