I HAVE read with interest the voluminous correspondence regarding tax in The Herald today (Letters, November 8). It strikes me that there is something grievously awry with the tax system, which is needlessly complex, punishes the small taxpayer and allows big business and wealthy individuals to avoid tax altogether.

What is this artificial difference between tax "evasion" and "avoidance"? People who do not pay tax as a deliberate policy are, to my mind, tax dodgers, and the full weight of the law, through new legislation, should be employed to enforce payment, be it from showbusiness, sports people, business people, the royals, politicians or whoever. It would also be useful to get a grip on the national and international organisations which help individuals to avoid tax. I write, as a taxpaying "twenty-five pencer" (over-80 pensioner, for the uninitiated), alarmed at the supposed lack of state money for anything and where this policy is leading us.

Andrew McCrae,

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35 St Andrews Drive, Gourock.

IT is clear that the present Westminster Government will do very little to curb the excesses of sophisticated tax planning, as its members have plans for lucrative non-executive positions when their political lives come to an end. Labour's history, sadly, is not that much better; overawed by proximity to wealth and influence no doubt.

The single measure which cannot readily be dodged or manipulated by corporations such as Google, Apple and Amazon is turnover in a given country. Profits, as we are seeing from the Paradise Papers, can be shifted artificially to friendly low or no-tax jurisdictions.

An imputed tax of for example five or 10 per cent of turnover, unless a proper verifiable tax return is made, fairly reflecting the profit results in the country, would restore equity. Severe penalties for local management if illegal or unnatural manipulation was done would concentrate minds.

Tax advisers who flit in and out of the Treasury designing tax laws and then applying their considerable skills as to how to avoid them should have to choose which side of the fence they are on. If for tax evasion, then no Government or public authority should employ them.

It is not impossible; it takes moral courage and a will to do what is right for the country; sadly missing at Westminster right now.

Stefan G Kay,

7 King's Cramond, Barnton, Edinburgh.

I READ with interest the letters concerning tax avoidance and evasion, particularly R Russell Smith's.

Up until 1996, as a master mariner I was employed as an offshore installation manager on mobile offshore drilling units worldwide and as such when I fulfilled the criteria required, pursued a claim for Foreign Earnings Deduction (FED) as laid out in Schedule 12 of the Finance Act. After a somewhat protracted negotiation with HMRC it finally conceded that my vessels were ships within the wording of the legislation.

I and many of my fellow mariners employed in the offshore industry benefited from this. However ,almost immediately this was brought to the attention of the Government and FED was withdrawn for all offshore employees. From March 17, 1998, Section 192A(3) ICTA1988 excluded all offshore installations within the meaning of the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act 1971 from the definition of “ship” for FED purposes. This meant that employees who perform the duties of their employment on any offshore oil or gas installation anywhere in the world could no longer be regarded as seafarers and were therefore no longer entitled to FED.

So in answer to Mr Smith’s letter, yes the Government can when it so desires swiftly slam the door shut on unintended beneficiaries to tax legislation when it suits it, especially when affected are not in a position to exert influence.

Graham W Clark,

22 Dunchurch Road, Paisley.

I FIND the disingenuousness of the spokesman for Prince Charles remarkable, but not surprising (“Charles named in Paradise Papers”, The Herald, November 8), when he speaks about the involvement of the Duchy of Cornwall in an offshore carbon credits trading company. With a straight face, presumably, he states that our next king, if all goes according to plan, “has never chosen to speak out on a topic simply because of a company that the Duchy may have invested in”. In speaking this way he completely ignores the point that Charles should not be speaking out in support of a company in which he has some kind of financial interest in the first place. There are many who believe that Charles, as a future monarch, speaks out too much on various topics which take his fancy.

It is reported that he made a number of speeches on the regulations dealing with carbon credits following the Duchy’s purchase of shares in the company concerned. Subsequently, the value of the Duchy’s investment increased substantially. The Prince has, naively or otherwise, put himself in the position of having a case to answer. In my view, in relation to the involvement of the Royal Family in the Paradise Papers, insofar as revealed to date, the son is more to be reproved than his mother.

Ian W Thomson,

38 Kirkintilloch Road, Lenzie.

THERE is one word that is sadly forgotten in the Scottish tax debate, which is currently focused on income tax (Letters, November 7): England.

While the Scottish Parliament can raise rates and create new taxes, businesses and high income taxpayers are free to minimise those liabilities. Some will conclude that a move south of the Tweed is the best way to do this. It only takes a few to move, and the hoped-for gains from a higher rate of tax vanishes.

The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax which replaced Stamp Duty land tax in Scotland in April 2015 is a case in point. The significantly higher rates for mid-market and high value homes under the new tax predictably had a chilling effect on property transactions, so that this punitive tax raises less than the tax it replaced.

Foreign investors are equally free to look at the diverging tax regimes between Scotland and England and put their money where they will get the best return. Undoubtedly, the decisions of many such investors contributed to the fiscal failure of LBTT.

Of course, with most of our Scottish political class being economically illiterate and, worse, unwilling to learn, we will doubtless repeat the lesson with income tax.

Otto Inglis,

6 Inveralmond Grove, Edinburgh.