Murphy was speaking yesterday at an evening debate held in London by the UK’s Revenue Bar Association, for barristers specialising in taxation cases, on the motions of penalising tax avoiders and whether enablers of tax avoidance should be penalised.
In his blog, Murphy said his own definition of tax avoidance was as follows: “An arrangement that is intended to reduce or eliminate a liability to one or more taxes in a way that could not have been anticipated by any reasonable legislator and whether or not the law in question specifically relates to tax or not.”
Some of the others present found this broadly acceptable, he said, but he, Alexi Moustrous of The Times, and Graham Aaranson QC who all spoke for the imposition of penalties, lost both motions, the second more heavily than the first.
He added in his blog that he wanted to be clear that his definition of tax avoidance “means that paying money into an Isa and getting pension tax relief can never be tax avoidance.
“I say this because an MP suggested these may be tax avoidance in my presence the other day, and that is wrong because the law deliberately intended that those reliefs be provided and so no tax can have been avoided.”