One day king Gordon called to the palace his chief tax collector, Dave. ‘I really must have some more taxes’ said the king ‘otherwise I will not have anything to pay my servants (and that includes you, by the way). But I don’t want to annoy my subjects, so what can we do?’
‘We don’t need any new laws’ explained Dave ‘in fact you could just issue a proclamation that from now on we will expect your subjects and especially the bankers to forget the actual wording of the law and instead act in accordance with your Majesty’s intentions when making those laws. No one need bother about the written laws ever again! We could call this concept “the spirit of the law”.’
‘But how do I know what my intentions were?’ exclaimed the king, ‘I just pass the laws you give me.’
‘Sire, I shall be more than happy to tell your Majesty what your Majesty’s intentions were, should the need ever arise’ beamed Dave, bowing lowly.
Adapted from a wonderful fairy tale penned by Trevor Johnson, a senior technical editor with CCH. UK tax advisers and accountants may notice a similarity between the fairy tale and prospective developments in the interpretation of our tax laws.