An interesting question really:
What are relevant criteria for identifying taxable capacity? – earnings, expenditure, age, hair, status, education, gender, height, assets, disability, responsibilities?
What exactly should we use?
We already do use earnings (income tax), expenditure (VAT, Stamp Duty, various excise taxes), age (there are tax breaks for certain age groups), education is at least mooted (various forms of graduate tax), gender (yes, there are differences in taxation according to gender: just think of the great whoops of victory which greeted zero rating tampons), assets (inheritance tax to start with), disability (yes, there are tax breaks for certain disabilities) and responsibilities (there are indeed tax breaks for those who carry certain responsibilities).
We don\’t in fact tax hair: but we do know that having hair leads to higher incomes than not having it, on average. Nor do we currently tax height, although Greg Mankiw has impishly suggested that we should, given that the taller do indeed make higher incomes than the short, again on average.
Status is about the only one that no one does talk about taxing.
My guess is he thinks that funny.
Many of us might think it a pretty sick sense of humour, especially given the discrimination all too readily apparent in the work the review has commissioned. Notice he forgot to mention wealth. Why? Was he trying to tell us something?
Can\’t see what\’s sick about that at all myself.
Oh, and, umm, well, aren\’t "assets" and "wealth" normally thought of as synonyms? (Although, to be fair, wealth is better defined by nett assets.)