Tax tourism and sovereignty – defining the real issue

Reading through the comments responding to the previous post, it seems the point I was trying to get across hasn’t landed as intended.  So hopefully this better defines the real issue.

The primary issue is not about whether corporations pay tax, or even how much they pay.  The issue is about who decides, the nation state, or the European Union with its judicial court bristling with legal primacy sitting in Luxembourg.

This is about sovereignty.

Without sovereignty over the law and over taxation rules in this country, the UK does not have the competence – the right or ability – to decide what entities operating here pay tax, or how much they should pay.  As such our nation state cannot effect change, be it positive or negative. We are powerless and at the mercy of foreign legal and fiscal institutions that are beyond the control of the British people and are not accountable to us.

But no one is talking about this essential issue.

It was dodged in Parliament during HMRC’s examination by the PAC.  It has been ignored by the media despite the matter being in plain view and ripe for massive coverage. Crucially, it gives lie to the oft repeated claims of the politicians that we are still an independent country, and are just sitting within a club of member states.

Control over the essential matters that determine whether a nation state is just that, has been removed from our national parliament and legal structures.

This has been done without our permission or consent.  But the emerging consequences, while provoking all sorts of complaints, investigations and hearings – be that concerning taxation of geographically distributed corporations; regulation affecting energy prices and ownership of our energy providers and means of energy generation; regulation affecting water prices and ownership of our water companies;  and even the regulation affecting how we collect and dispose of rubbish and the costs loaded on to us as a result – are not being connected back to the root cause… removal of sovereignty.

That is the real issue.  That has to be the area of our focus.  That is the battleground to determine how and by whom the UK is governed.  It is about sovereignty.

9 Responses to “Tax tourism and sovereignty – defining the real issue”


  1. 1 The Sage 30/10/2013 at 9:06 am

    Notably absent from the discussion so far is that our dual taxation treaty with Luxembourg (for example) dates back to the 1960s (when we were still a sovereign nation), and that alone is sufficient for Amazon to domicile itself as it does and pay its taxes there.

    In this context, the EU is not the elephant in the room, but a complete red herring.

  2. 2 wj (@wj557) 30/10/2013 at 10:02 am

    I understand your frustration AM – but your post stands on its own two feet and raises valid questions regarding Margaret Hodge, the PAC, and the press.

    But so too do other questions require probing.

    What is the tax relationship between the UK and Luxembourg, why does the EU demand that no nation state meddle in the profits and taxes of organisations like Amazon.

    FWIW I believe that the EU Tobin Tax is a toe-dipping exercise and the EU is aiming for taxation on any company operating in the EU – its own resources.

    When we go down the tax outrage path, especially at an EU level, it always seems that the EU has a ready made solution for the problem.

    I can hear the EUphile now at the hustings – “yes, we know that Amazon aren’t paying their share, but our beloved EU is doing something about that – if only that nasty UK would play ball”

    Apologies for sidetracking again – and we’ll keep hammering away on the lack of sovereignty on the EU’s influence – but there’ll be a “European solution”

  3. 3 Autonomous Mind 30/10/2013 at 10:27 am

    The Sage:

    Notably absent from the discussion so far is that our dual taxation treaty with Luxembourg (for example) dates back to the 1960s (when we were still a sovereign nation), and that alone is sufficient for Amazon to domicile itself as it does and pay its taxes there.

    In this context, the EU is not the elephant in the room, but a complete red herring.

    If that is the case, how does that account for Starbucks’ identical behaviour from the Netherlands? Regardless, we are getting away from the core issue again – that of regaining lost sovereignty over these matters.

  4. 4 Brian H 30/10/2013 at 10:38 am

    Now you know how India and Canada and the US and Australia felt to varying degrees at different times. Enjoy. ;p

  5. 5 Autonomous Mind 30/10/2013 at 11:04 am

    I think, Brian, the situations and circumstances of those times were rather different to what the UK is experiencing today – but the similarities between then and now is the absence of sovereignty and therefore decision making power.

    Nevertheless, thanks for reinforcing the key issue of sovereignty and self determination, in your own inimitable way…

  6. 6 EForster 30/10/2013 at 11:27 am

    I propose a radical reform of the tax system: to abolish all taxes on the supply side that are concealed constituents of end prices to consumers and to impose an equivalent consumption tax in full view, if we are to have any chance of controlling public expenditure. There are countries which have this tax regime, but they are improperly called tax havens.
    Would the EU would allow the UK to be a “tax haven”? No!
    We absolutely need to regain the UK’s self determination.

  7. 7 cosmic 30/10/2013 at 12:16 pm

    wj (@wj557)

    “why does the EU demand that no nation state meddle in the profits and taxes of organisations like Amazon.”

    Because it weakens the nation states by removing sovereignty in a vital area. It places something in the EU’s gift, like the low corporation tax in Ireland, which can be used as a bribe, then later as a threat.

    It helps create a situation to which the answer “more Europe” can be given.

    Don’t forget that one of the EU’s ambitions is direct taxation from the centre, rather like federal taxes in the USA, and leaving the local administrative assemblies such as Westminster, to do a do a bit of tax gathering, within limits, to suit local circumstances.

  8. 8 Dave_G 30/10/2013 at 3:16 pm

    As succinct a post as I’ve ever read. Thank you, well done and keep up the brilliant work.

  9. 9 Lazlo 31/10/2013 at 1:37 am

    We lived in the UK for the first half of 2010, visiting from Oz, and experienced the ash cloud that you could not actually see. I have a strong memory of the then Transport Secretary (Adonis, I recall) saying that the airspace had to be closed because of ‘some EU regulation’. He was saying that the UK did not have control of its own airspace.

    What surprised us even more was that none of our intelligent UK friends seemed to think this was a problem, or question why planes were not flying in a perfectly clear blue sky. Mustn’t grumble, I suppose..


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