I pity the poor individuals who are going to be charged with reading the 11,500,000 separate files leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, but I suppose the comfort they can take is that they will almost certainly come across something pretty explosive in those documents. We have already learned quite a number of things; for one thing, the revelations we have seen so far will not be the last by any means (and I suspect that quite a few politicians, business-people and celebrities are shifting a little uncomfortably in their seats at the moment).
How far will the revelations go? We have already lost one Prime Minister and I can’t believe he will be the last casualty. Even our own Prime Minister has faced some difficult questions as a result of the leaks. The numbers involved are simply mind-boggling as well. If all of the proceeds which it has been reported were involved were subject to tax, it wouldn’t surprise me if the combined global deficits would be significantly reduced, if not eradicated entirely.
Some of what the law firm in question was involved in appears to be legitimate (if not perhaps at least morally questionable) and that does once again raise the thorny issue of how far is it acceptable to go to minimise your tax liability. Of course, there is no easy answer to that and it does I guess in part depend on your own attitude to the morality of taxation. What is clear, however, is that if we are going to prevent the more objectionable financial practices which go on around the world, there is going to have to be an open and honest debate as a global community on what is and what isn’t acceptable and a consensus with everyone will need to be reached, because if one country remains outside the net then the whole effort will be wasted. Good luck with that then.