Actions arising from short-term expediency can be tempting. They may hide, but can never negate, the underlying principle. Obedience to the law is a principle that applies even when that law itself appears unprincipled. Google, Amazon, Facebook and others have for many years exploited jurisdictional tax-rate differentials to minimise their liabilities. The style of compliance they observe is highly inequitable, but not illegal. The compromise on back-taxes now negotiated is merely an expedient.

The latest outcry against ‘unfairness’ may be understandable but it has subjective roots. Gut feelings hardly provide a solid recipe for the UK tax code.

Acting out of expediency may hide, but will never negate, the underlying principle. Obedience to the law is a principle that applies even when that law itself appears to be unprincipled. Google, Amazon, Facebook and others have for many years exploited jurisdictional tax-rate differentials to minimise their liabilities. The style of compliance they observe is highly inequitable, but not illegal. The compromise on back-taxes now negotiated is, however, merely an expedient.

How much is the correct amount of tax? That has become an unprincipled political question, with answer ranging from “How little can we get away with?” to “Whatever is ‘fair’ ” – But no one knows what is fair!

More anon!