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Of course Jeremy Corbyn is the real tax-dodger, that's why he paid more than he owed

By Mark Steel

Published 16/04/2016

Facing flak: Jeremy Corbyn came under fire from David Cameron after the Labour leader was fined for sending in his accounts late
Facing flak: Jeremy Corbyn came under fire from David Cameron after the Labour leader was fined for sending in his accounts late

It was highly moving to hear the Prime Minister explain that the reason he gave misleading answers about benefiting from offshore tax arrangements was because he was angry with comments made about his dad. It makes you realise that, when it comes to tax avoidance, the Camerons are the real victims.

Offshore tax deals may deprive the country of billions of pounds, but that’s only money. Insulting comments are made about your father, such as ‘did you benefit from his offshore tax account?’ would make anyone get angry and confused, and spend all week implying you didn’t benefit when you did.

I remember when someone asked me if my dad liked bananas, and for the next month I told everyone I was the world discus throwing champion. Being devious was a natural reaction to the anger.

How dare people spread smears such as ‘he set up an offshore company in the Bahamas’, when the only evidence he did any such thing was that he’d set up an offshore company in the Bahamas. Some people even insinuated the reason the millions of pounds were placed in the Bahamas was to avoid tax. But there are many other valid explanations, such as the need to keep the money warm.

But now, at last, some people are directing questions at the real tax dodger: Jeremy Corbyn. According to the Daily Telegraph, Corbyn has “taken £1.5m from the state”, and the sneaky method he’s used is to “make this from his salary as an MP” (over 34 years).

Another MP is quoted as saying this revelation is “remarkable.” Thankfully there are dedicated journalists prepared to root out this astonishing figure – by multiplying his annual salary by 34. We must be grateful to those gallant crusaders prepared to go to such lengths to expose this scandal.

But this is only the start. Further investigations reveal if Corbyn lives another 80,000 years, and remains an MP for that time, he’ll have taken more off the state than the entire defence budget of Argentina. Even more remarkable, compared to someone travelling on a rocket flying at close to the speed of light, his week would last as long as one of their minutes, meaning he could make a million pounds EVERY SPACEMAN DAY.


That’s socialists for you.

Having published his tax returns, it also emerged Corbyn was fined for sending in his accounts late, which David Cameron tried to make a joke about. This was reassuring because it suggests he’s got over the deep trauma he suffered last week. And you can understand his point: as any businessman knows, it’s far better to be paid nothing on time rather than the right amount a week late.

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It also turns out Corbyn paid too much tax, having stated he earned more than he did. We could quibble about the too much/too little detail – but he paid the wrong amount. This seems to be the Conservative argument about tax avoidance: we’re all up to it in our own way, so if you give your son three quid for mowing the lawn without paying VAT, you’re no different to an investment banker squirrelling £10bn in the Virgin Isles so he can keep the lot and buy a Rembrandt to use as a dishcloth.

If you express discontent about it, you’re asked ‘do you have an ISA, because THAT’S tax avoidance’? I suppose it is. If you buy an apple rather than spending that money on a house, you’re sneakily avoiding stamp duty. Who are you to complain about Google?

And, as they insist, none of these people named have done anything illegal. That may be because the characters using accountants in Panama were rich to start with, so they could afford to employ an army of lawyers and accountants to make sure their avoidance was legal. If burglars had those resources, they’d inform a specialist firm about a house they were planning to rob so it could be registered in an archipelago off Alaska where it’s legal to walk off with someone’s telly and do a dump on their carpet.

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But the saddest part of this story, as many Conservatives have suggested, is that if we’re going to be such sticklers over people in public life and where they put their £10m, we risk putting decent tax avoiders off from offering their services to the state. For example, William Hague said if Winston Churchill had to be open about his accounts, he wouldn’t have stayed in politics.

That’s possible – although it may be that he’d have stayed in politics and paid his tax. Or he might have said: “I was planning to warn about the perils of Hitler, then if necessary become Prime Minister and oppose the attempted fascist domination of Europe. But if I’m expected to pay the legal tax rate, I don’t see why I should bother.”

This only shows the slippery slope we go down if we insist our politicians stick to the same rules as everyone else.

If we expect them not to drive at 120 mph the wrong way down a motorway, or set fire to public buildings or sacrifice llamas in the woods in Satanic rituals, we’ll simply deter the high quality individuals we need.

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