Panama Papers’ dodgy middlemen are nothing new, as our own tax scandals show

The unprecedented leak of millions of documents, known as the Panama Papers, from tax haven law firm Mossack Fonseca prompted me to pick up an old book on my shelf. Written in 1969, Adventures in Tax Avoidance: with 120 Practical Hints by Peter Clyne presents “the adventure” of tax avoidance as a game “played by experts, locked in a perennial battle with the revenue authorities’ team of experts”.

The rules of the game are provided by the letter of the law, with the judge (and occasionally the decisions made by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) as referee. Tax law is as much a weapon to avoid paying tax as it is a tool to combat tax evasion. What is legal (and judged to be legal) is legal. Morality, yet alone criminality, has nothing to do with it.

The Panama papers would suggest otherwise. The experts (tax accountants, lawyers and

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