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The (tax)man in the moon

May 1, 2012, 10:32 AM
Authors : Daniel
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Post date : May 1, 2012, 10:32 AM

Competition: see below

In space, no one can hear you scream. Or demand the payment of taxes.

I take the poster-line of Alien in vain as the horror classic’s sort-of-prequel, Prometheus, prepares to make a water-landing on the froth of a million overexcited sci-fi dorks.

Judging by the movie’s promotional bumf and latest – apparently spoiler-filled – trailer, commerce is the catalyst for events.

In the 1979 original feature, the Nostromo is a towing vessel owned by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, an embryonic version of which is apparently the paymaster behind the mission of the exploration ship Prometheus.

Clearly, Ridley Scott, director of both flicks, is convinced humanity will one day expand permanently beyond this planet, doggedly pursued by big business.

(It’s probably worth noting that Scott’s futuristic masterpiece, Blade Runner, is set in a soggy LA that’s practically one gigantic, neon-lit billboard.)

If enterprise and greed endure, then so will taxation. How will it work?

Imagine the date is 2069. You’re the UK-born AI director of a leading robotics company. Its headquarters are on Moon Base Alpha, where you’ve worked and resided for the past eight years.

Out of every 104 weeks, you’re off world for all but the three in which you take a holiday in the tropical seaside town of Sheffield.

One tax authority or other is going to feel entitled to a share of the zillion credits you earn per annum on your lunar home (which has yet to gain independence).

But in accordance with the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the infinite void belongs to no state. The same applies to the stars and alien planets, which are protected under the international Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.

All of which suggests that HMRC won’t be able to simply transmit a hologram message of HartnettBott demanding money with laser-powered menaces – unless, of course, legislation has been altered to ape the current American model so that all UK taxpayers remain within the Revenue’s jurisdiction no matter where they reside, whether it’s moon-side or no further afield than the snowbound island of Brazil.

Or maybe the UN space accord will have been altered to the degree that every off-worlder simply pays his or her birth-nation a portion of earnings.

A data input is urgently required, and Taxation’s readers are the future’s best hope. Send us your suggestions for handling space tax; the most cosmic will win a Blu-ray copy of a sci-fi classic.


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