Friday, July 15, 2016

The Owl and the Pussycat may well have been into tax avoidance

A simple analysis suggests that this Edward Lear poem is all about tax avoidance.


The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea [going offshore obviously]
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money, [evidently cash]
Wrapped up in a five pound note. [money laundering perhaps?]

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows [obviously a tax haven]

The big clue is in that penultimate line. Leaving the UK for a year and a day is the minimum period of absence required to ensure that they secured non-resident status under the rules then in place.

The above analysis was offered in 2009 by Andrew Hubbard, now Editor in Chief of Taxation magazine, when he was newly installed as President of CIOT, after the Chartered Tax Advisers' address on the anniversary of Edward Lear's birthday.
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