Panama Papers – why are people hiding their money offshore anyway?

So, with the Panama papers, governments are cracking down on tax dodgers. In the Netherlands the minister wants to increase the penalty for giving up your hidden funds to 300% plus back taxes plus interest. The claim is that it’s not fair, because poor people don’t have enough money to dodge taxes and so have to pay the full amount. Not much thought seems to be given anywhere on why there are so many tax dodgers. In the Netherlands there are only 4 tax categories, with the highest starting at € 66.422 and being taxed at 52%. This basically puts everyone in the top tax bracket, where the government takes more of your earnings than you receive yourself. To me this looks like blatant theft. Anyway, after you’ve earned the money and paid the taxes, you’re left with 21% VAT on every purchase you make thereafter. Should you be lucky enough to have some left after this highway robbery, currently they tax you 30% of what you have left. Next year, they will tax small savers less and large savers more. This formula only goes for earnings from salaried income. If you run your own business (which in the Netherlands 9% of the total population does: and which is probably around 30-40% of the total working population) the amount taken from you by taxes is far, far higher and you generally don’t have the social safety net to fall into. Now from where I’m standing, being fleeced by the government again and again and again isn’t particularly fair. Taxing people at the bottom of the earnings scale the same percentage as people at the top isn’t fair – which is why we got rid of poll taxes.

I’m not surprised that people don’t consider it immoral to hide their money from the money grubbing hands of governments who misspend their money on overly huge projects time and again.

In order to solve this problem, the tax system needs a major restructuring, with many many more tax brackets, running up to a maximum fair percentage, taking into account the much larger diversity of incomes since the 1980s. Only then will government highwaymen be able to claim a moral high ground over tax dodgers.

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