For most of us the only way to cut our tax bill is to open a tax-free ISA.
And if we’re lucky we’ll get a few quid in interest a year - not enough to pay for Christmas or a holiday, but better than nothing.
So it’s galling that the so-called great and the good have been revealed to be using complicated loopholes in tax law to avoid paying tax on their money.
Let’s be clear, it’s legally avoiding, not evading. But I believe it’s morally wrong.
The Queen, Bono, Lewis Hamilton, Lord Ashcroft and some of the cast of TV sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys are among those named as having signed up to offshore accounts which means they can reduce tax on earnings, savings and private jets.
Most of those named by the release of the ‘Paradise Papers’ and the subsequent investigation by journalists started life just like us - born in state-funded hospitals, with the help of state-funded doctors and nurses.
Educated by our state, they’ll have made use of our state-funded roads, hospitals and been protected by our state-funded police.
They’ve found fortune because of their talents and abilities and also because we have bought into their brand.
I get there are perks to being rich and famous - but not paying their dues should not be one of them.
Bono’s now telling us he’s ‘distressed’ that he is a passive investor in a scheme that may be dodgy.
To me, if someone approached me offering to invest my cash in a Lithuanian shopping centre, like Bono has, I’d be wary.
To divert your cash offshore implies they want to keep it as far away from the taxman’s hands. We have plenty of banks and investment funds here so why look abroad?
So why do we continue to let people get away with it?
And would we do the same if we were in their position?
Despite all the pledges and promises by politicians, is the tax system just too complex to resolve and close these loopholes so no government actually tries?
We haven’t, so far, elected anyone of any political party who has done enough to stop this. And I wonder if we ever will.
Higher taxes are a vote killer, but is ‘stricter tax law’ enough to rally the masses and be a vote winner?
These people live in a different world to the rest of us and I doubt many of them have had sleepless nights over it.
So would I do it if I could?
I’d like to think if I had such riches I’d live in a slightly bigger lovely house, be thankful I’m mortgage free, put enough aside for me and my family to live on and then pay what I should to the society that has raised me.
Would greed take over? Possibly.
But if someone advised I use loopholes I’d feel uncomfortable with it and would make the choice to decline.
Just like it’s the choice of the Queen and Bono etc to decide if they should employ people who will exploit loopholes in tax law.
They may not have logged onto their online accounts to see what was happening but by being blissfully ignorant they’ve shown an irresponsibility to society.
My own tax is sorted by my employer but if you’re self-employed you’ll have HMRC knocking at your door.
Who, apart from journalists who have spent a year working on this investigation, is putting pressure on these public figures?
Maybe turning our backs and not spending our disposable income on them would send a signal.
Society is richer if we all contribute to it and take only what we need from it.
That saying ‘while the rich get richer...’ is very apt.