In sickness and in health

Bach’s Double Violin Concerto was once played as a conversation between husband and wife, by two virtuosi, at a memorial service in Westminster Abbey for the late spouse of a prominent politician. A Tel Aviv Labor Court decision earlier this month suggested grounds for a similar musical parley between the National Insurance Institute and the…

A Grim Tale

Once upon a time, children’s behavior was kept in check by Cautionary Tales. Something was prohibited, someone (traditionally a naughty kid) did what they were forbidden to do, and someone (the same kid) came to a sticky end. Young bedtime readers’ inclination to err was doused by bed wetting and anguished screams in the night.…

You’re Fired!

In the first half of the 19th century, criminal cases at London’s Central Criminal Court - The Old Bailey - generally lasted less than half an hour, hardly enough time for the noose to tighten around a petty thief's neck. Meanwhile, as evidenced by the fictitious Jarndyce versus Jarndyce in Bleak House, Chancery cases over…

Apple bites back

In Plato’s Republic, Socrates is presented with the cynical argument that the appearance of justice is more important than the reality of it, an idea taken up two millennia later by Machiavelli in The Prince. The General Court of the European Union’s rejection yesterday of the EU Commission’s claim that Ireland had given illegal state…

Two roads diverged…

For the last three and a half months I have felt like the protagonist in Monty Python’s ‘The Day Nothing Happened’. As the real world has been fighting to keep its COVID-19 head above water, the tax world has been treading water. A recent Israeli court case that surfaced last week, however, jolted the rose-tinted…

The postman doesn’t even ring once

Charles Dickens spent much of his literary career railing against the demonic effects of 19th century bureaucracy. He could just as well have been writing today. Unfortunately, now as then, most of us obediently accept the nonsense thrown at us by the nation’s institutions, because – once solved - we don’t have the time, patience…

The People’s Court

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first performance of the classic satirical farce ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’, in which two policeman under investigation for the death of a suspect in their custody weave a web of increasingly improbable explanations as to how he fell out of the interrogation room window. I don’t…

Keeping VAT off the streets

When people refer to ‘tax evasion’, they are rarely talking about VAT. The criminal non-payment of VAT, as distinct from its elder siblings - Income Tax and Corporate Tax, is universally known as VAT Fraud. The name reflects none of the grudging respect for the brilliant wheezes of talented white collar crooks . No, sir.…

Is the law an ass?

Last Sunday, the High Court clipped the wig of a first-class judge - and the tax community in general - in a landmark decision overturning a lower court’s ruling. It reminded me of the reaction I received from a tax authority official to an article I wrote at the turn of the century for a…

The Windsor Saga

  One of the perennial challenges of the writers of successful soap operas is finding original ways to write actors, who have had enough, out of the script. They can’t all be sent off to Canada, and the public sometimes doesn’t like what it gets. When, broadcast on Christmas Day 2012,  Downton Abbey’s Matthew Crawley…