Only Poor People Pay Taxes

In the week that more Government cuts hit the poorest in society, as George Osborne argues with his critics and Iain Duncan Smith says that he can live on £53 a week, I thought I would share this letter to The Guardian from Michael Meacher MP, which is still extremely powerful and pertinent:

The annual Sunday Times Rich List yields four very important conclusions for the governance of Britain (Report, Weekend, 28 April). It shows that the richest 1,000 persons, just 0.003% of the adult population, increased their wealth over the last three years by £155bn. That is enough for themselves alone to pay off the entire current UK budget deficit and still leave them with £30bn to spare.
Second, this mega-rich elite, containing many of the bankers and hedge fund and private equity operators who caused the financial crash in the first place, have not been made subject to any tax payback whatever commensurate to their gains. Some 77% of the budget deficit is being recouped by public expenditure cuts and benefit cuts, and only 23% is being repaid by tax increases. More than half of the tax increases is accounted for by the VAT rise which hits the poorest hardest. None of the tax increases is specifically aimed at the super-rich.
Third, despite the biggest slump for nearly a century, these 1,000 richest are now sitting on wealth greater even than at the height of the boom just before the crash. Their wealth now amounts to £414bn, equivalent to more than a third of Britain’s entire GDP. They include 77 billionaires and 23 others, each possessing more than £750m.
The increase in wealth of this richest 1,000 has been £315bn over the last 15 years. If they were charged capital gains tax on this at the current 28% rate, it would yield £88bn, enough to pay off 70% of the entire deficit. It seems however that Osborne takes the notorious view of the New York heiress, Leonora Helmsley: “Only the little people pay taxes.”

Related to that last point, here’s a graph that illustrates the extent of tax dodging and tax avoidance in the UK.


Meanwhile, the Guardian reports on a massive leak of computer data that shows how much anonymous wealth is held in off-shore accounts

Austerity and the Damp Fog of Alienation

The tweet above, about welfare claimants, struck a chord with me.
It is very worrying that the welfare safety net is being reconfigured, to become something that could coerce claimants.
It is actually quite easy for those with job security (not just the wealthy, but the middle classes too) to imagine certain aspects of poverty. Regardless of our jobs or bank balances, we’ve all experienced moments of hunger, or the boiler has broken and we’re without the central heating. While affluent people do not know what it is to live perpetually in that state, they can at least imagine the physical discomfort. So it is easy to be outraged by extreme poverty.
However, it is harder to imagine the feeling of being in the position of weakness that comes when one is entirely dependent on others to sign-off on benefits. Continue reading “Austerity and the Damp Fog of Alienation”