Should taxation be voluntary, or is it already?

Should taxation be voluntary? Given a bill for more than a month’s average pay in January, I sure wish it would be optional. A tax demand from the HMRC going to the effect of “We’d really like the £1600 from you but don’t worry if you can’t – pay what you want…” would be rather nice actually. I think I’d offer 25% at most…

If you know me and my ramblings on Dorset Eye, you’ll be scratching your head and potentially thinking I’m planning on resigning my Labour membership and going to join the Conservatives. You’re wrong: this is just a commentary on what seems to be happening already.

Philanthropy

I was at a charity event the other night where a voluntary sector organisation tasked with supporting a certain group of disabled people get through the worst privations of welfare reform were asking for money to support their cause.

The average age of the punters at the gig would have been 60, often people who unthinkingly put a cross by the blue candidate at the polling station and wonder what all the fuss is about from people like me when the Daily Mail and Telegraph says that 25% of benefits claimants are swinging the lead so cuts need to be made to stop fraud. We’re all in it together after all… My family and I pitched in a reasonable sum into the bucket after, my making an acerbic joke about the reason that the charity had to work so hard. 

My personal favourite for the leadership of the Conservative Party Jacob Rees Mogg said to the London radio station LBC,”To have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are.” This guy is renowned for supporting a low tax economy, and therefore seems to prefer philanthropy to taxation – pay the taxes you want to the causes you feel necessary. 

Look yourself in the mirror and tell me honestly: if you had to pay no tax but were encouraged to pay what you felt reasonable to a charity of your choice, would you find 20% of your income a year to do it?

Taxation is voluntary already…

No, I’m not saying that I should pay what I can afford in January. Nor am I suggesting that you should write a cheque for £0.01 to the HMRC in January and hope for the best. Instead I’m talking of high level corruption that still hasn’t been sorted out despite it being an open secret for years. The Big Four accountancy companies regularly second their staff to the HMRC to effectively write the tax rules that will affect their companies.

In April 2013 the Guardian newspaper reported, “The so-called “big four” accountancy firms are using knowledge gained from staff seconded to the Treasury to help wealthy clients avoid paying UK taxes, a report by the influential Commons public accounts committee says.” In short, those who are paid to minimise the tax burden of their clients are involved in writing the tax law in the first place. This is a case of the poacher being hired by the gamekeeper to maintain the game on the estate.

One of those client companies may well be Facebook. The Guardian again: “Facebook’s UK operations paid just £5.1m in corporation tax last year, despite a jump in profit and revenues nearly quadrupling on the back of increasing advertising sales.”

The Independent news website reported last week, “The Duke of Westminster, one of the richest men in Britian, reportedly inherited the bulk of his father’s £8.3bn fortune without having to pay a penny in death duties.”

For Facebook, the Duke of Westminster and (dare I suggest?) William Rees Mogg pay a far lower tax burden than I do. I’d personally love it if old Moggy and Hugh Grosvenor had to find a month’s pay every year to keep the tax man from bankrupting them. Instead they are part of the corrupt elite who pay someone who’s written the tax code themselves to use every loophole available that they wrote into the tax code to not pay it.

Two things certain in life…

There are two things certain in life, the saying goes: death and taxes. The corrupt elite in the UK are getting to the point that this is being slowly reduced to one certainty. The rest of us are being told ‘taxes are bad’ so, particularly when hit with a bill I really will have to sweat to find I’d rather pay a proportionate tax bill to that of old Moggy.

Aren’t taxes a good thing? 

For argument’s sake there are around 50 million people of taxable age in the UK. While Brexit may impoverish quite a few of us, we are generally alright when it comes to the little things in life. While the idea of 1.5 million people in need of food banks can’t be ignored (many of them in work) the bulk of us aren’t doing so badly. Let’s use food banks as an example: if 50 million people and the businesses they worked for paid £2 each extra for the welfare system to be fair and easily accessed (call that £120 million), would there be a need for food banks? 

 I guess we’re getting to the crux of my argument here. Doesn’t tax need a better image? Instead of being taught from an early age that taxes are ‘a bad thing’ as ‘it takes money out of your pocket’ can’t we think along the lines of taxes being a good thing? “Hey, I’m sweating for the next three months and cutting back on Christmas presents so I can have a health service that will fix me, a welfare system that will look after me, and public services that make life so much nicer at home.” OK, so having nuclear weapons that could turn me to an asphalt shadow isn’t a great thing, but we can sack the weakened megalomaniac in Downing Street who thinks that nuclear weapons are something useful. 

We get told time and again that we’re all in it together. How about being honest with ourselves, from High Tory down to the nurse using the food bank to supplement her diet, and say ‘Yup! I’m paying taxes as they really are a good way to look after everyone’s needs…” 

This is just a rant. Just my thoughts through a man flu addled mind on a slack Sunday. You may think differently: say so on the Dorset Eye page. What don’t you want to pay for out of your taxes? Moggy’s house renovations? Muslim Polish terrorist benefit scroungers who procreate too often and need a 10 bed mansion on housing benefit? Or perhaps I’m just talking sense…

Rich Shrubb