Monday, 24 November 2008

Avoiding The Issue

You could put up the top rate to ninety-nine pence in the pound, for all the difference that it would make. They wouldn’t pay it then, because they don’t pay it now. Yes, there are people who pay top rate tax. But they are not on £150,000.

Close the loopholes, raise the threshold and, if possible, cut the rate. Not just for the top band, but for income tax as a whole.

They’d move abroad? Well, since they are not paying anything anyway, so what? And in any case, no, they wouldn’t. Precisely two cities on earth offer the lifestyle that they want, and one of them is in a country with a much less indulgent attitude towards tax-dodgers (see another of today’s posts for more on what that great country is really like). Of those who are not British, many would not be let into that country, and have been refused entry to it in the past. And those who are British have no more desire than most other people to live in a foreign country, just because it would be living in a foreign country.

Close the loopholes, raise the threshold and, if possible, cut the rate. Not just for the top band, but for income tax as a whole.

44 comments:

  1. It's a very good idea to close loopholes - something which of course governments of both parties have been trying to do for years without success. You seem remarkably confident it can be done. Do you have particular examples in mind, that you have gained from a careful study of the tax system?

    And is it your contention, therefore, that governments could do it if they wanted to but actually are under pressure not to force certain people to pay tax?

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  2. "It's a very good idea to close loopholes - something which of course governments of both parties have been trying to do for years"

    Since when!

    "Do you have particular examples in mind?"

    All of them. Everything above a much higher personal allowance fixed permanently at national median earnings.

    "And is it your contention, therefore, that governments could do it if they wanted to but actually are under pressure not to force certain people to pay tax?"

    Yes.

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  3. “Since when!”

    In every Budget since time immemorial. You can dispute their efficacy, but a simple read of any Budget document would show you a raft of announcements of loopholes that have been closed that year.

    “All of them. Everything above a much higher personal allowance fixed permanently at national median earnings.”

    I actually meant any specific loopholes that you knew about. Apparently none is the answer

    “Yes.”

    That’s a bold claim. I’d be interested to see evidence for it. Another interpretation is that the government is always trying to close loopholes, at the same time that tax lawyers are trying to find new ones. On the whole, the latter are smarter – that’s because tax firms can pay the best people several times more than HMRC can to recruit and retain them. So as fast, or if not faster that government shuts them, tax lawyers find new ones.

    And to pre-empt your tiresome response - yes I pay tax, no I don't defend tax evasion, no I'm not getting angry because you've dared to question the premise that I should (continue to) pay tax, yadda yadda yadda

    But two competing theories as to why we are where are. Mine has lots of evidence behind it (like statements in every budget document and from every Chancellor of the Exchequer about closing loopholes). What does your have?

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  4. You really are determined not to pay tax, aren't you? And politically very effective about it. As someone in America (I'll have to look up who) once said, the rich march on Washington every day.

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  5. I don't think you really answered anonymous' question David. It seems to me as if (s)he pays tax, but doesn't think it's that easy to close loopholes. A politician's slogan is what you're being accused of - cheap and easy to say but with no beef. And you haven't done much to dispel us of this notion...

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  6. There's no convincing some people, no point arguing with them.

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  7. But that's the point - you haven't convinced anyone - certainly not me. You made a statement with no supporting evidence. Anonymous provided an alternative explanation, complete with supporting evidence. All you did was abuse him / her, accuse them of not wanting to pay tax (which isn't true), and still didn't provide any evidence!

    Now I'm asking you. I'm open to be convinced - what is your evidence for this? Or am I to be abused as well now?

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  8. "Convinced" of what?

    That loopholes should be closed?

    That governments always announce such closures but the small print always tells a different story?

    That they are under social and political pressure to keep the very rich away from having to pay tax?

    Anyone who needs to be "convinced" of any of that is living in a different world anyway. Probably the world of extremely rich non-taxpayers.

    Then again, even they don't think of themselves as normal. Well, not if they are first generation extremely rich non-taxpayers...

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  9. No, not convinced that loopholes still exist – that’s self evidently obvious. And no one so far has said they’re a good thing. But anonymous claimed that this was a simple battle of wills between the govt and tax lawyers, and that the latter win. You said its because govt doesn’t even try. This is not self evident to me, and I am not “convinced” of it. And as a tip, when you’re running for elected office, you’ll come across people who aren’t somehow pre convinced of your ideas, and need to be won round.

    So convince me. What evidence is there that the government does not try to close loopholes?

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  10. There are 913 references on the HMT website for the search term "tax avoidance", all about measures introduced every year to try and minimise this.

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  11. And a fat lot of good they have ever done.

    Because they are not really supposed to. They are supposed to make people think that they do, or will, or might, or just about could, or...

    "But anonymous claimed that this was a simple battle of wills between the govt and tax lawyers, and that the latter win."

    Because the law is so complicated. The government can, and therefore must, massively simplify the law. For that, of course, we need a whole new batch of politicains.

    And as if you'd ever have voted for us anyway. We'd make you pay tax.

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  12. When running for elected office? Like people like Anthony ever run for office! They are already far too powerful ever to need to.

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  13. Yet they are the only people who can afford to these days.

    Of course, the only people who write or speak like that are particularly rich but particularly mediocre Sixth Formers and undergraduates.

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  14. How many elected offices have you ever run for, Anthony? And with how much success?

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  15. Form monitor positions and the like don't count.

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  16. What about you, David?

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  17. Oh, I've won every election in which I have ever stood, not counting the District Council one, which was just the old trick of standing for the District on the same day as the Parish because then you are guaranteed a Parish seat. I don't know why that works, but it does.

    Of course, being an old trick, it was completely lost on Jon, and on Tom (whatever happened to Tom?), to whom such things are a closed book, and all politics is conducted on television or something. They'll go far, alas. And I suspect that Anthony will be going there with them a few years later.

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  18. When you were Labour Sub-Agent for Lanchester you got an overall majority of the total vote on a four way split. In true blue Lanchester. It has never been equalled let alone bettered.

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  19. Indeed I did.

    And indeed it hasn't been.

    Labour punished me for it for years, and never cared how much it lost in the process.

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  20. What about President of the Durham Union Society?

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  21. Form monitor positions and the like don't count.

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  22. As with the talentless hacks who somehow get published when you don't, it is a complete scandal that Labour never gave you any more than they did. They lost a lot of support in Lanchester because of their very public humiliation of you time and time again.

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  23. (whatever happened to Tom?)

    He died, I believe. In a car accident.

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  24. I can assure you that he didn't.

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  25. That's good. If you know what happened to him, why are you asking what happened to him?

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  26. I know for certain that he is still alive.

    Anyway, back on topic, please.

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  27. Who are Jon and Tom?

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  28. I don't know who they are, but I don't think there's any shame in not being famous.

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  29. I don't know who Jon and Tom are, but if they disagree with you, that's all I need to know about them.

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  30. For clarity: if they disagree with you, they must be right about most things.

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  31. Tom and I used to agree about rather a lot. Just after 9/11, he told me how he longed to see the headline "We Are All Palestinians Now".

    He used to say that The War Against Terror should be known by its acronym. I once heard him speak alongside George Galloway, who praised him for making "the speech of the night".

    And his blog introduced me to the word "puggle".

    But then he decided to co-opt himself into New Labour, doubtless in search of a seat. And he stopped blogging. A great shame.

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  32. What's he doing now?

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  33. Making a name for himself in the New Labour salons of the Big Smoke, last I heard. Even signed the Euston Manifesto.

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  34. Was that before or after he stopped blogging?

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  35. When's Jon going to get a blog?

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  36. I was wondering that myself.

    And the answer is "before".

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  37. Maybe he finally felt able to join the Labour Party once you left it.

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  38. Given what at least he now claims are his views, perhaps so.

    Now, back on topic, please.

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  39. He's nowhere near MP calibre - if he's really looking for a seat, he's got a nasty shock coming to him.

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  40. I wouldn't agree with that at all, actually.

    Now, back on topic, please.

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  41. Could Jon be an MP?

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