Sunday 15 April 2012

Taxing my brains out

Every now and then the idea of choosing where your tax money goes bubbles to the surface. It sounds like a bloody good idea, actually. I don’t get ill – seriously, hardly ever – so maybe I’d be better off paying into a private health plan, rather than funding the NHS for all you malingerers? I drive my own car and pay all the necessary taxes including the hefty wack the government takes every time I fill up. So there goes my sympathy for public transport.

I don’t buy much packaged stuff, there is no such thing as food waste in my household and I compost anything I can. So, I would be quite happy to dispose of my one black bag every three weeks at the same time as I recycle stuff like glass and plastic, which I already do myself anyway (as I have no idea when the ‘binnies’ actually collect that stuff - it seems to vary). My night vision is pretty good too – probably all that sniper practice – so with bin-day and streetlights out of the equation, I reckon there’s a big chunk of my council tax accounted for. I should get a much bigger rebate than the meagre single occupancy discount. (The Poll Tax was an eminently fair idea.)

So, if people like me could influence where tax goes, it’s fairly predictable that we’d end up with large armed forces, millions of police, impenetrable border controls, massive jails and (for the long-term unemployed) workhouses. There would be no local ‘government’, merely the necessary admin staff and the NHS would consist of emergency treatment only, following aggressive triage. (Self-inflicted? – back of the queue.)

If I proposed all this the Labour twonks would be up in arms. There would be bloody hell to pay because in a responsible society the high earners should pay the bulk of the tax, they’d say. But they already do. “Yeah?” they’d challenge.  Well, yeah, actually, by a considerable margin. Without the tax take from the people you consider wealthy your socialist experiment would have foundered long ago.

And it would be unthinkable under a socialist administration for high earners to influence how their tax is spent – they should just put up and shut up. But, of course, they already have a way to do just that. If I could afford to pay a big chunk to charity instead I could choose where it goes. Under Labour’s own tax exemptions, I can say, “To hell with society!” and effectively opt out of general taxation, preferring instead to benefit the causes I decide are deserving.

So, Labour, you are opposing the coalition’s proposals to stop that?

For what it’s worth, as charity is elective taxation, which does allow the wealthy to avoid general taxation, I actually think the government’s proposals are a practical, social and a public relations disaster, but I do wish the opposition would make up its mind what it wants.

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