Life, tax avoidance, and healing prayer: 27 January

A British Crash is no longer for sale on Amazon – too expensive. There’ll soon be a new page of reviews on www.abritishcrash.co.uk  This book isn’t likely to make my fortune!

Last week I went to a financial services seminar in Leeds, because I had been invited by someone at church the previous Sunday. A presentation about getting as rich as you can as quickly as you can, through avoiding tax and using the money to buy flats. Not my usual milieu! The presenter explained how they take the tax dodges used for the very rich (like off shore trusts) and make them available through accountants to smallish business owners. If there are loopholes why should only a few benefit? It’s hard to argue against that. Christians are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s but what if Caesar’s rules make it possible for us not to pay? What if Caesar doesn’t seem to want us to pay?

The method the financial wizards explained in detail was using ‘Employee Benefit Trusts’ which began in the early 1900s, well before the Welfare State, as a way of helping workers in need. They encourage business owners and managers to use these trusts for themselves. I want to look into EBTs more with a view to using them for all the workers instead.

Is it a matter of intent? If our intention is to pay as little tax as possible, are we going too far from what Jesus said, even if we stay within the present law? The seminar presenters seemed to be wholly anti-tax, even anti democratic government. The speaker said twice that he doesn’t vote because ‘it only encourages them.’ Yes indeed democracy is worth encouraging. They fully expect that the loopholes they use will soon be closed. Whereupon they will find new ones. This seems to me at least against the spirit of what Jesus said.

But what if our primary intention is to provide for our family, and even chosen charities, and paying less tax helps us to do that? I expect most people would say that paying less tax was only a means to the laudable aim of providing for others. How can we discern what our real motives are? Providing for our own family, however, at the expense of the NHS is not loving our neighbour as we love ourselves.

My father gave much time and energy to setting up off shore trusts for the family. He lived in Austria largely to minimise his tax bill. (Having been brought up in Germany it was also where he spent happy childhood holidays, the equivalent of British people retiring to Brighton.) My father also had the experience of seeing his father’s taxes going to pay for gas chambers being built to consume his relatives. I felt I couldn’t criticise much his aversion to tax.

Our family, especially in the last year or two have also been well provided-for by the NHS. If only we could vote for where our taxes were going! Those who support Help For Heroes could vote for military spending and people like me who see our involvement in Afghanistan as an ever-growing disaster could vote for bigger cleaning budgets in hospitals. If only…

A friend told me that his local hospital was closing wards because of a ‘super bug.’ Some wards had security guards on the doors.

His 4 year old daughter had been admitted with an unidentified infection. Her temperature would go up to 40 at night, causing her to fit, and then would be normal in the day when she was taken to the doctor. My friend had tried praying as I had suggested a while ago, asking the Holy Spirit to come in some kind of picture and telling the germs to leave. He asked the Holy Spirit to wash down through her like a shower of water and told the germs to leave through her feet.

A little later my friend’s wife was cuddling the girl and noticed that her feet were burning hot while the rest of her was normal. She hadn’t known what had been prayed. They both thought there was a connection. But the germs didn’t leave and the girl had to go to hospital.

I then suggested that my friend pray again, this time telling the germs to leave through the normal, natural processes and openings. The day after he prayed this, his daughter kept, unusually, asking to go to wee, and the doctors worked out that the main site of infection was her kidneys. With prayer and pills she is now fine. Alleluia!

Roger Harper

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