It was inevitable that tax would be pounced on at some point during the General Election campaign. It is after all the only other certainty apart from death.
David Cameron, leader of the Conservatives, produced an odd speech earlier this week, stating that “high tax is immoral”. It was clever to appeal to people who don’t see why they should part with any of their earnings in tax. But, when it comes down to it, tax is necessary: the key purposes of tax are to create the ??? of the country: roads, hospitals, schools etc. On top of this, tax helps to provide a safety net for those (and it could be any of us at any time) who fall on hard times.
It’s pretty much impossible to say what a ‘high’ level of taxation is – 20%? 30%? And that’s one way that Cameron’s speech was clever. Quite how he, or anyone else can measure the morality of taxation is somewhat baffling, but it provides a good soundbite.
The second bit of cleverness is his statement that there is “no such thing as public money”. It is a handy little throwback to Margaret Thatcher’s idea that there is no such thing as society, thus ringing a handy bell for his more right-wing supporters.
Meanwhile, Labour have announced that they will remove ‘non-domicile’ status, which allows people to avoid paying tax if they can ‘prove’ that the UK isn’t their main residence. The fact that this status can be claimed, for example, by living full time in the UK, but having a father who was born abroad. It’s an archaic throwback to the days of the British Empire when rich British people living abroad didn’t wanted to be taxed both abroad and in the UK. These days it is used as one of many ways that certain, generally wealthy people find to avoid paying tax, so I’m glad to see this is a loophole which will be closed if Labour comes to power.
Interesting to see how the different approaches to tax are coming out during the election campaign.