Ten years ago, and certainly twenty, newspapers shied away from stories about tax avoidance. Editors tended to think that if one rich person was engaged in a ruse to avoid or delay tax, their own proprietor was probably doing similar.
The Sun probably didn’t want to investigate The Guardian’s use of shell companies in the Cayman Islands to avoid corporation tax, since parent company News Corporation was fairly aggressive in its own drive to cut tax.
I think there’s been a cultural shift ever since the banking crash of 2008. Even very rich editors got cross that bankers still seemed to be making millions they stashed in tax havens while cash-strapped governments bailed them out.
By 2013, the BBC was reporting on “the rise of tax shaming”.
This week, I did a column on Jim Ratcliffe’s plan to move his assets to Monaco.
Reader response was radically different to what it would have been years back. Some did write-in to say I’m a communist idiot with all the good sense of a plate of mince (Most unfair. I’m not a communist).
Otherwise, the reaction was anger at Ratcliffe rather than me.
When it comes to the tax affairs of the rich and powerful, the gloves are off. Just saying “this is within the law” is no longer going to cut it.