I really did think that people must be joking when they talked about patents for tax limitation strategies. Really. Just on the face of it, the idea that the state might grant a monopoly on a particularly creative way of avoiding paying tax – ie avoiding providing the state’s revenue – just struck me as so ludicrous as to be funny. That’s why I expressed disbelief about the Grant case, and wasn’t surprised by its outcome here in Australia. Such things = not patentable, and that seemed right.

Even yesterday, when I saw in the online news that this was an issue in the US, I was a little disbelieving that this could be a serious issue.

I admit it. I was just plain wrong on that. Take a look at this long, serious document, entitled Background and Issues Relating to the Patenting of Tax Advice, prepared by the Staff of the Joint Committee of Taxation, for the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, part of the House Committee on Ways and Means, for a hearing in July 2006.

Beggars belief. Really. May we never reach that stage here.