As he reacts to this week’s episode of Nolan Live, Tyler McNally explains why Corporate Welfare cheats us all.
In the wake of the collosal Paradise Papers leak, revealing the vast sums of untaxed money which lie in offshore bank accounts; The size of the story and the connections between NI based companies and the papers, guaranteed a Nolan episode dedicated to the subject, and we were not disappointed. A solid 30 minute debate was held between four panellists, including Charlie Wolf, Phil Kelly, Jim Clarken from Oxfam and generic Tory Droid #004 (Alan Moore said nothing of substance).
Why do we insist on discussing taxation in a very strict vacuum? Tax, who pays it and who doesn’t informs much of our political discourse. In order to be able to truly address taxation (or the lack of it) as an issue, we need to fully grasp the issues that blight our society currently.
Phil Kelly made the point that we have a society that separates actions from consequences, ironically enough, in a debate chaired by someone who refused to broaden the debate to include any real consequences. In a debate over whether people who avoid vast sums of tax should pay, only one panellist mentioned Working Tax Credit being used to supplement poverty pay, no one talked about that fact that many of these NI based companies in the papers are likely recipients of substantial Invest NI subsidies. Not only are they avoiding tax obligations, they are siphoning off taxpayer funds to further supplement their balance sheets. Could the Paradise Papers be the final piece of evidence needed to show how much of a disaster Invest NI’s subsidy programme has been? Perhaps we can look at that another day.
Charlie Wolf tried to explain away concerns by having the gall to suggest, in the manner of a God’s Herald, that the wealthy pay enough and they can take the wealth they create (insert expropriate from the labour of their employees) wherever they please. Charlie seems pissed off that the poorest 50% only pay around 9% towards the UK’s tax intake, compared to the top 10% who pay 58.5% (Pro Tip, it’s because they fucking earn more Charlie).
As Lord Ashcroft is the Absolute Tory, as well as being a top non-dom; Tory Droid #004 didn’t say much bar ‘I won’t discuss individual cases’ in a manner akin to a well, a robot.
We can’t be that cynical as to think that this money is better off in the hands of unaccountable corporations and wealthy elites, the same who profit from taxpayer money constantly. We also can’t be naïve and advocate for taxation to be paid in full under the assumption that this will end austerity. The Irish Government’s treatment of the billions that are owed to it by Apple; are an extremely important example of how a government, when presented with money that could alleviate a critical housing crisis, will still pursue neo-liberal austerity and will try to avoid those funds.
Tax avoidance does drive inequality, but closing the loopholes alone won’t solve these problems. We should use these conversations about Tax and the Paradise Papers to make it clear who the thieves, the cheats and the shysters really are, we need to use these revelations to destroy the myth of the ‘wealth creator’. Many questions and points were raised during the debate by both panellists and the audience (fuck off with your flat rate tax) but maybe the biggest questions, if it isn’t just greed, are why do we need a system that only functions through gifting eight men a growing fortune, at the expense of over 60% of the world’s poorest populations? Why do these businesses only turn profits from underpaying staff and avoiding tax obligations?
This piece doesn’t cover the issue of taxation with the justice it deserves, but it is hoped that this piece can allow readers to make those connections between corporate welfare, tax avoidance and government austerity. Remember the next time someone makes a comment about wealth creators or unfortunate people on benefits; Corporate Welfare cheats us all.