Benjamin Franklin is famously credited with writing the words: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Last week, it was revealed that the late, much-missed Sir Ken Dodd had avoided more than £11million in inheritance tax by marrying his long-term partner of more than 40 years, Anne Jones, 48 hours before he died.
While £11million is a lot of money, I hope his decision was as much as to do with ‘doing the right thing’ by Miss Jones than just the tax implications.
But it’s the public perception that never ceases to amaze me.
Tax evasion is illegal, whoever you are – it was the only crime that Al Capone was ever jailed for. Tax avoidance, on the other hand, is not.
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To reiterate, £11million is a lot of money for the public purse to miss out on – money that could have gone schools and education or healthcare.
Yet some sections of the press lauded Dodd for his final act.
How would they have treated someone else doing exactly the same thing? And what would have been the public reaction if it had been a politician, a high-profile figure from the business world, or even someone from the entertainment world who didn’t have Sir Ken’s popularity?
You can picture the headlines and column inches.
I wonder if Benjamin Franklin ever said anything about life not being fair?
However, there is a positive footnote to the whole story – the bulk of Sir Ken’s £27.7million estate is apparently being bequeathed to local and national charities close to his heart.
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