There are times when it’s necessary to wonder at the logical dimness of certain people.
Let us construct an example. Say that we have laws against piracy in British waters. I think we still do. But we have a terrible lack of corpses being covered three times by the tide at Execution Dock. There are two possible answers to this. One is that we’re not prosecuting the piracy that is happening. The second is that there’s no piracy to prosecute.
Occam’s cutthroat tells us that the second is the more likely answer. We can also descend into mere empiricism and go attempt to find instances of piracy that are going unprosecuted. Given that there aren’t any – not unless we think those rubber dinghys crossing the Channel have been stolen at sea – then we can confirm that the absence of rotting cadavers upon seaswept gibbets is because of the absence of the crime, not some dereliction by the prosecuting authorities.
The tax authority has failed to prosecuted a single corporate tax evader and missed its targets to crack down on wealthy individuals in the past five years, in what has been called a “staggering failure” by experts.
In 2015, HM Revenue & Customs pledged to chase down wealthy individuals and increase the number of criminal prosecutions of wealthy individuals and companies to 100 a year by 2020.
However, according to a Freedom of Information request by law firm Kingsley Napley, there have been zero corporate prosecutions in the past five years. This is despite new Corporate Criminal Offence rules being introduced in September 2017, which were supposed to bolster HMRC’s powers.
Governments do not show a notable absence of lust for the pilf and gelt due to them. Occam’s shaving kit therefore leads us to the conclusion that HMRC is unable to find cases of corporate tax evasion to prosecute.
That is, the absence of prosecutions is because the crime isn’t being committed.
Oh, sure, there’s lots of tax evasion out there, all sorts of window cleaners are being paid in cash, do you a better price without VAT Guv’. There’s an awful lot of tax avoidance too, the attempt to reduce a tax bill through legal means. Something we find out whether it’s legal – and thus tax compliance – or tax evasion through examination.
But corporate tax evasion? The very fact that it’s not being prosecuted tells us that it’s not there in the sort of volume that requires prosecution.
Isn’t that nice?