A spotter’s guide to the men and women of finance.
A friend of chicken licken, as the saying goes. These folk lie awake at night fantasising about Tolley’s Tax Handbook, and worry that excise might be retrospectively levied on equity trades in India and that the IRS might recharacterise equity swaps as disguised cash transactions. Either of these things might happen, of course, just like the sky might fall in on our heads.
Now as you all know the Jolly Contrarian doesn’t like to generalise, but — okay, okay, the JC loves to generalise, I admit it — but, tax ninjas really are, uniformly, and consistently, a bit weird. But weird in a good way. They are weird so we don’t have to be. They’re weird in the same way all ninjas are a bit weird — that any people who have devoted their lives to the selfless pursuit of any kind of esoteric knowledge are a bit weird. It takes a weird sort of personality to devote your life to imputation credits and so on, after all.
In a rare example of what we call “archetype congruity”, all tax lawyers are subject matter experts, and all tax lawyers are tax ninjas. In formal logic this can be expressed as follows:
- (x)(TLx ⊃ SMEx ⊃ TNx)
- x = Any person
- TL = Tax lawyer
- SME = Subject matter expert; and
- TN= Tax ninja.
This is because they necessarily are in fact, but because they necessarily are as far as anyone else can tell. For no-one who isn’t a tax lawyer can bear the prospect of getting close enough to the topic to know whether a self-professed tax expert knows what she is talking about and, as such, there is no independent means of determining what a given tax position is other than by asking a tax lawyer — any tax lawyer — to tell you, and thereafter that answer cannot be gainsaid.
The famous counter-intuitivity of tax law — how, to the laity, nothing in it makes any sense in any circumstances however hard they can bear to look at it — may indicate, in the alternative, that either:
(i) Any understanding of tax law requires ninjery so ineffable it cannot be apprehended, much less appreciated. by any lesser mind; ergo tax expertise is somehow Godly and pure; or
(ii) Tax law is a total shower and anyone who claims expertise in it is an outright charlatan. In this view there is no God; to the contrary, when we hold tax considerations in contemplation we are not just close to the abyss that yawns away below our turtles, but staring directly at it.
- ↑ Real Japanese ninjas, that is, not ironically labelled ISDA ninjas though, come to think of it, we ISDA ninjas are a bit weird too.