Photo credit: Julian Hanford
Photo credit: Julian Hanford
A view from Dave Trott

A view from Dave Trott: Changing the game

Everyone hates paying tax.

For every £10 you earn, you only keep £6, because the government takes nearly half.

It’s a drag, but at least everyone has to pay it.

Well, no, they don’t.

What makes it even worse is that, in the words of the billionairess Leona Helmsley: "Only little people pay tax." 

For instance, if you earned £40,000 last year, you probably paid twice as much tax as Facebook did.

Facebook earns 10 per cent of its global revenue in the UK  yet, in 2014, Facebook paid just £4,327 in tax.

Less than the average employee.

Google managed to pay just £6 million UK tax on revenue of £2.5 billion.

Amazon paid just £12 million UK tax on £5.3 billion revenue.

And Starbucks paid no tax at all on its £400 million.

You see, companies like these can afford hugely expensive accountants to make sure they pay little or no tax.

One of the main ways to do this is to register the company abroad.

If the head office is offshore, all profits go directly there instead of being taxed in the UK.

It’s unfair, we all complain about it, but we never do anything.

But there are some "little people" who are doing something.

The town of Crickhowell in Wales has registered itself offshore.

It’s only got 2,800 people: two pubs, two butchers, two coffee shops, a bookshop, an ice-cream parlour, a florist, a chemist, a department store and an optometrist.

But they have decided to use the same bookkeeping practices as large companies.

The little businesses in Crickhowell have all registered themselves offshore, thereby making sure the entire town avoids paying tax. Just like all those big companies.

And they’re making a TV programme about it.

Every window has a "Fair Tax Town" sticker to make sure every other town in the UK gets the message.

Their motto is: "Either we all pay tax, or none of us do."

Crickhowell will avoid paying tax in exactly the same legal way the big companies are allowed to.

See, politicians don’t listen to little people.

But there are about 43,000 towns in the UK.

If this works in Crickhowell, it could easily spread to those other towns.

What if all those other towns began to take themselves offshore to avoid paying tax?

The politicians will have no choice but to close the tax loophole.

And if they close it for the little guys, they will have to close it for the big guys.

And that is how you get politicians to listen to you.

In fact, that’s how you get anyone to listen to you.

You change the game.

The game is currently set up this way: it’s easier for politicians to ignore us than to do something.

In that game, the incentive is for politicians to ignore us.

The town of Crickhowell is changing the game.

It is setting the game up this way: it’s easier for politicians to do something than it is for them to ignore us.

That way, the incentive is for politicians to do something.

Changing the game is another name for creativity.

Dave Trott’s book, One Plus One Equals Three, is out now