These days it seems that business is a dirty word, particularly big business. And as one who thinks about everything too much, this has troubled me for a while. Now, I’m not some business or political guru, I’m just a normal person running a very small business with my husband. Anyway, we smaller folk are supposed to be disgusted by the way these big businesses behave…
… well I won’t be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m disappointed that it appears integrity has to be enforced with some businesses, but I am even more disappointed by the system that enables them to behave the way they do with regards to things like aggressive tax avoidance etc. I want the system changed. Because it is the system, and the system is wonky. But no one is breaking the law.
At the end of the day I don’t hear of anyone paying more tax than they have to, and tax avoidance starts right at the other end of the scale.
If you put money into an ISA you are avoiding paying tax. But that’s okay, because that’s the system.
If you sell items on an auction site and don’t declare it to the taxman, you could be a tax avoider and it’s not the system so that’s not okay in the eyes of the law. That person could even be a tax evader. How many people sell their unwanted stuff on auction sites in Britain? I’ll let you ponder that one whilst I get back to big business.
Let’s drill down a little further into this big business issue and most of the companies people have a problem with are international. They can base themselves in Luxembourg therefore paying lower taxes. The growth of online retail has governments running to keep up with changes and failing miserably. It would be like me running the 100m alongside Usain Bolt. Yes, governments could move slightly faster, and do what’s right instead of perhaps what some big businesses want, but it’s a difficult balancing act. I see often on twitter the cry ‘LET THEM ALL LEAVE!!! WE DON’T NEED THESE BUSINESSES!’ and I quietly sigh. What do these people want to do with the employees of the businesses? The public sector cannot employ everyone, as much as some governments have tried.
And where do these people think the money the government would use to pay all of the people they want to be employed in the public sector comes from? It’s not a money tree that’s for sure. It comes from taxes. Whether it be corporation tax, capital gains tax, vat, or income tax they are all necessary. Businesses; big or small and the employees within contribute.
As much as some people like to say there is no ‘trickle down effect’, there is. Just talking in those terms, how many are employed by the likes of Starbucks, Amazon, Virgin, Tesco, etc in Britain (I don’t know, but I’m sure it’s a whopping number so there is a fine balancing act)? That is the trickle down effect in its simplest terms before we even think about wages.
Wages are another issue, so all I will say at this point is; if one introduces a minimum wage then the responsibility is taken away from the employer in a lot of cases. Any company that pays the minimum wage probably just waits for the government to pull the strings. They don’t worry too much about their workers going elsewhere because wages are the same like for like.
We NEED big business. Whether it’s banking or retail, big business oils the country’s cogs. So when the government tries to catch up with technology and make changes, it needs to be aware of that. The government has to look at the bigger picture, whereas the people railing on twitter apparently have a myopic view. It is alleged that the top 1% of earners pay 27% of the tax in Britain, so we should be celebrating the top 1%, or at least not vilifying them on a regular basis. We can be pretty sure that the majority of the top one percent are either employing a shed load of people, or are employed by a ‘Big Business’. So let’s find the balance whilst asking businesses to think hard about what’s the right thing to do.
NB. Any business mentioned here is mentioned only as an example of employing ‘shed loads’ of people, and is in no way tied in with any other comments.