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The hand of accounting and accountancy firms in deepening income and wealth inequalities and the economic crisis: Some evidence

Prem Sikka

CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, 2015, vol. 30, issue C, 46-62

Abstract: This paper looks at the economic crisis in the UK. It argues that everyday accounting practices are deeply implicated in the inequitable distribution of income and wealth, a major cause of the economic crisis engulfing the neoliberal economies. Without adequate purchasing power middle and low income households cannot make the purchases necessary for a sustained revival of the economic activity. Accounting calculations and discourses play a major role in the determination of wages and taxes. They prioritise the interests of capital over labour and the state and have systematically eroded labour's share of the gross domestic product. At the same time, despite a massive growth in corporate profitability, the UK state's share of the national wealth in the form of tax revenues has also declined. It is argued that accounting practices which label payment of wages to labour and payment of taxes to the state as ‘costs’ amplify capitalist concerns about private appropriation of surpluses and have played a major role in assigning such payments to negative spaces. Through the sale of tax avoidance schemes to corporations and wealthy elites, accountancy firms have facilitated a skewed distribution of income of wealth and further constrained the state's capacity to reflate the economy. Consequently, the tax burdens on the less well-off have increased and further eroded their purchasing power and possibilities of building a sustainable economy.

Keywords: Critique; Secteur public; Cabinets comptables; Crítica; Sector Público; Firmas de contabilidad; Critical; Public Sector; Accounting firms; Taxation; Inequalities (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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Handle: RePEc:eee:crpeac:v:30:y:2015:i:c:p:46-62