The Tax-Payers’ Alliance (TPA) is PR tool for corporate customers and high-earners that focuses on campaigning in the media for reduced taxation for them and for reductions in fiscal spending on vital public services. Complicit media and politicians, who share TPA’s objectives (though sometimes reluctant to admit so), are happy to allow TPA members to be cast, frequently, as ‘independent experts’ on issues related to tax and to public spending. To differentiate itself from other think-tanks that promote assaults on necessary public-spending and assist the elite minority of exploiters, the TPA pretends to be a defender of typical middle- and low-earner tax-payers, a pretense that is very transparent.
In a section on fiscal “debt” the TPA makes the following hilarious comment
“Public Sector Net Debt now stands at £1.3 trillion. That means the government has borrowed £1.3 trillion from the taxpayers. Over £20,500 is now owed to every single citizen in the UK.”
This “debt” that the government accrues is definitely not money borrowed from the people of Britain, or of any other country. Indeed, this so-called “debt” is an imagination of the banking and financial worlds. For the TPA to claim that this “debt” is owed to the people of Britain reveals both the TPA’s intrinsic dishonestly and its abject stupidity.
Case study: TPA reaction to tax-avoidance in Panama
The recent leak of tax-avoidance details linked to Panama has featured voluminously in the media. Self-appointed ‘experts’ have had their respective agents working as assiduously as accountants to acquire a few minutes on a news channel or a cobbled-together incoherent article on a newspaper’s website. There has been much (often ill-informed) analysis of the mechanics of tax avoidance, its morality and its use by prominent politicians. For a think-tank that claims to represent tax-payers, the TPA’s media presence has been almost unnoticeable. One or two of its usual suspects have uttered platitudes here and there but it has been remarkably circumspect on this issue.
Eventually, a statement appeared: TPA Panama statement. After a cursory comment expressing disapproval of criminals hiding stolen money, the TPA explains that people misunderstand what tax havens are because “clearly, some just use the term [tax haven] pejoratively rather than to meaningfully categorise jurisdictions,” and that “the amount of tax avoidance that actually takes place is often hugely overstated.” In common with all con-tanks, the TPA invents a phrase in order to purposely misrepresent the topic being discussed: They are not “tax havens,” they are “low-tax jurisdictions.” One such fraudulent phrase is not enough for the TPA; they also use “international financial centres.” Quoted extensively throughout are James Hines who is a respected academic analyst of international corporate taxation, but Hines’ objective analysis is presented by the TPA as if it is supportive of tax-dodging. To add a comedic facet to its statement, the TPA also quotes Gordon Casey, a “Managing Director of a hedge fund consultancy based in the Cayman Islands.” That description is worth repeating in bold: Managing Director of a hedge fund consultancy based in the Cayman Islands! The statement concludes by asking the UK government to do absolutely nothing about the UK’s tax havens because “if the UK were to place, for example, Jersey under direct rule and subject it to the UK’s tax regime, its unique selling point would be lost and its economy destroyed.”
If anyone was unsure of the TPA’s real role then the aforesaid statement on the Panama leaks should clarify exactly where it stands: A cheerleader for the wealthy elite.
Links to brief descriptions of other right-wing think-tanks: UK think-tanks