32 comments on “Timmy elsewhere

  1. The less “anonymised” the data, the more they’ll be able to sell it for.
    So in due course…

  2. Don’t suppose this would be a popular view, but I wouldn’t be against what tax one pays being a matter of public record.
    As what tax one pays is supposed to be one’s contribution to common expenditure, it seems to make some sense, that contribution should be common knowledge. It’s hard to see why it should be a secret between the taxpayer and the taxman, who’s only acting as the public’s agent in the matter.
    Too much transparency?
    At the moment HMRC has the data, behaves as if it owns the data and sees fit to disseminate it to whoever it feels like. Now it proposes to sell it. Better then, it doesn’t have a monopoly on it.

  3. I rarely agree with BIS, but I think he has a point. Turning it round, why should it be confidential.

    On the great John Cowperthwaite argument – if he didn’t collect any statistics, how do we know whether not collecting statistics was a successful policy?

  4. @ BIS / Luke

    “It’s hard to see why it should be a secret between the taxpayer and the taxman”

    Simply because my salary / income is MY business and not yours (nor my neighbours / friends etc) unless I choose otherwise.

    For those who have little notion of the concepts of personal privacy in life, then I would understand (though utterly despise) their values.

  5. @BiS

    Probably because the British are such spite people. The focus wouldn’t be on look how much he’s paid, he’s a good chap, it would be more around is that all he’s paid, he must be fiddling somewhere.

    Its the same as those surveys that proclaim that some large number, usual >80%, think taxes should be higher, when what it really means is large number of people – a few think everyone richer than them should pay more tax (and usually by extension they should pay less).

  6. @guest
    I specifically said tax paid not income received. The latter is rightly a private matter. But why is the tax payment?
    @BwaB
    Yes the Brits are a spiteful bunch. And yes, they all think everyone else but themselves should be paying more tax. But it’s a lot harder to voice that opinion when one’s own tax is a matter of public knowledge. (Personally I’d include benefits received as well.) Then we all know where we’re coming from
    @Luke
    I’m not disagreeing with the Cowperthwaite argument, here. It’s more that the data is collected & is used. It’s that the one set of people who don’t get to see it is the taxpayers. Wouldn’t we all like to know how much Murphy pays when he spouts about tax avoidance?

  7. “I specifically said tax paid not income received.”

    They’re algorithmically equivalent you thundering cretin.

  8. Guest

    “Simply because my salary / income is MY business and not yours (nor my neighbours / friends etc) unless I choose otherwise.”

    Why?

  9. Guest, I have some sympathy. But see Hayek – the sole point of people earning more is to signal to others that that’s a good line of business. So the more we know which lines of business are good, the better?

  10. @Luke, my example, but can be used by extension almost everywhere. If everyone in my company could work out what I get paid then many currently perfectly happy bunnies would become extremely unhappy bunnies. This is not good for morale or productivity, no matter how carefully you explain to people why different people are worth different.

    I am likewise sure there would be one or two surprises there for me if I knew what everyone else was getting, but chances are I would not be unhappy. Partly because I really don’t give a fuck and partly because I do know they are all less than mine.

  11. I love the premise of the ‘Sir John Cowperthwaite principle’, but I think it needs to reinforce that the thing governments will do with the information will almost certainly be very, very stupid.

  12. “Simply because my salary / income is MY business and not yours (nor my neighbours / friends etc) unless I choose otherwise.”

    Why?

    The notion that the state or the community should be able to make public information about an individual that the individual would prefer to keep secret (other than in matters criminal) seems very Murphyesque.

    If we wish to let others know how lucrative our business is, we can to do so through what we choose to spend.

  13. Luke

    But see Hayek – the sole point of people earning more is to signal to others that that’s a good line of business.

    Try parking the economic theory. And if you can’t, perhaps try thinking macro versus micro (ie, it’s personal)?

  14. @Richard Allan
    “They’re algorithmically equivalent you thundering cretin.”
    Yes. They should be, shouldn’t they? Maybe that’s the point?

    @BiG
    “If everyone in my company could work out what I get paid then many currently perfectly happy bunnies would become extremely unhappy bunnies.”
    It’s a principle that works if the bunnies are happy in their ignorance. But based on ignorance, look how much “this person/these people earn too much/pay too little tax” we have now. It’s not as if there isn’t a fairly obvious way of divining earnings now. Extrapolating back from visible spending. Which is what bunnies do and what makes their ears droop.
    But it is a matter of privacy. The question I’m asking is why. It is, after all, each individual’s contribution to common expenditure. Maybe it’s because tax is also progressive? A way of redistributing wealth. We like it done but don’t wish to see it being done.

  15. BIS,

    “But it is a matter of privacy. The question I’m asking is why. It is, after all, each individual’s contribution to common expenditure.”

    But as noted, tax paid is a good proxy for income earned which I believe people should be entitled to keep private if they wish. Since the tax paid is involuntary, all the community needs to know is that it is being paid, not how much.

    “Maybe it’s because tax is also progressive? A way of redistributing wealth. We like it done but don’t wish to see it being done.”

    With the exception of those physically or mentally unable to look after themselves, I don’t like it to be done, as far as I’m concerned there is way too much redistribution of my wealth.

  16. I suppose that it’s not such a bad idea for HMRC to make a few quid from flogging tax details rather than the present system of leaving free DVDs of tax data on the bus / tube / taxi.

  17. “But as noted, tax paid is a good proxy for income earned which I believe people should be entitled to keep private if they wish. ”

    This is an argument I have trouble following. Visible spending is an equally good proxy for income earned & people don’t seem to have much problem with privacy in that direction. They don’t buy a Porche, then keep it hidden under a dustsheet in the garage. It’s for show. “Look how much dosh I’m making!”

  18. BIS,

    But we have the choice of buying a Porsche. If we wish to hide our income we could buy a Nissan Micra, live in modest accommodation and fly cattle class. If we don’t care or want to show off, we could own fancy cars, live in a mansion and fly first class. But the choice is ours. Publishing a person’s tax information is removing that choice and compelling them to make their income public.

  19. Surely this type of transparency is essential for a free market? How can a trading agent evaluate risk without it?

    That’s not saying that this HMRC thing is correct in this form, but the general push for registers of beneficial owners as well some sort of tax info will make the market behave as purists would wish.

  20. So, “free market” bods are against information being available. Tell me how I am summarising this wrong.

  21. PS, I am genuinely interested in how we know (if we do) that John Cowperthwaite’s policies were so successful.

    My suspicion is that he was deliberately hiding HK GDP (which he knew) to avoid having to pay a fair share for HK defence. But, in the absence of decent figures, we don’t know if he successfully his HK figures and got us mugs in UK to subsidise HK.

  22. BiS.- it’s not libertarian, it’s forcing individuals to publish private information. Jesus Christ, what’s the matter with you you stupid fucking wanker, you just have to be a fucking Brit. Stupid stupid fucking bastard british scum.

  23. @PeterS
    I’m genuinely interested in how you construct a libertarian society & it seems to me, if you’re wanting the State out of your affairs, you do need something to replace its functions. If it’s going to tax, it needs to tax as transparently as possible. Or you leave the State as the final arbiter as how much tax should be paid. Ideally it should be as little as possible but it’s still necessary to verify an appropriate share is contributed.
    It’s worth remembering, secrecy about tax payment is a relatively recent innovation. The historic liberals, often held in high regard, wouldn’t have though the notion unusual. But, of course, very few people paid taxes then.

  24. Incidentally, a lot of the secrecy people take for granted is recent.
    Our legal system is based on trial before of a jury. That jury was originally exactly what it says on the tin. Trial by one’s peers. People who would have known the accused & would have assessed evidence against what they knew of the accused’s character. Secrecy, in a way, is the enemy of libertarianism.

  25. Luke,

    How does every man and his dog not knowing details of how much tax I pay undermine the free market system?

    BiS,

    The basis on which tax is levied needs to be clear and transparent but I fail to see why how much an individual pays needs to be. The state is capable of satisfying itself that the tax due has been paid, nobody else needs to concern themselves in the matter. If the state considers that the tax due has not been paid, it will take the necessary action. If tax became an entirely voluntary matter, then I can see why people would want to know who is paying what. Then we’d all be scurrying to get our Fair Tax Marks so that we could stand righteous before our fellow citizens.

  26. @ BIS
    “but it’s still necessary to verify an appropriate share is contributed.”

    The law determines that the correct amount of tax is paid, not a public notice for each individual. What are you trying to “fix”?

  27. Those who claim that it is not very “libertarian” have obviously not got a freakin clue what libartarian means.

    In essence, you cannot be forced to do what you do not want to do but you do not stop others from doing it.

    Its your choice.

    Really, is that so difficult to understand?

  28. @DocBud
    Well, yes. if you wish to create a libertarian society you do need to have taxation that is voluntarily paid. if you’re putting the State between you & your neighbour, in the matter, then you’re a Statist, not a libertarian. it’s not the State to which we owe our contribution. It’s to our neighbours.

  29. I don’t put the state between my neighbour and myself, BiS, I have no choice in the matter. Similarly, my taxes are not voluntary, they are very much involuntary. When I can determine the amount I have to pay, which will be a lot less than at present, then I’ll be willing to let people know the amount.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.