A national treasure has been judged to have avoided paying millions in tax, and will now have to pay it back. According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2013, Gary Barlow was worth about £60m, up from £50m the year before. You would think that he could afford to pay his dues, and still not be short of a few quid. In fact, he probably wouldn't notice any material difference if he was about £58m worse off.
The irony, of course, is that Mr. Barlow has received an OBE for his laudable charity work. If everyone paid their taxes, we probably wouldn't need charities in the first place. I have an idea for a new fundraising telethon. It involves members of the general public imploring rich celebrities and business men to pay what they owe in order to support the country in which they live. We could choose an upstanding celebrity to present it (such as Jimmy Carr) and in between the various pointless fundraising bits we could show films of freezing pensioners, understaffed hospitals, and crumbling schools.
I believe that custodial sentences should be imposed automatically for tax evaders and tax avoiders. Being told to simply pay back the money is not acceptable, since it does not act as any kind of deterrent. If custodial sentences are considered too harsh, then being made to pay back at least ten times the amount defrauded would be an acceptable alternative. By not paying your fair share of taxes, you are causing honest people to pay more and causing real hardship.