This is just terribly, terribly, amusing.
Several people have already referred in comments to Simon Jenkins’ article in the Guardian on tax today – which is very good (everyone has their day). I recommend it.
As he concludes:
Property taxes cannot be evaded, and properly imposed are a fair generator of government revenue. Better, they are traditionally paid in anger. Any tax paid in anger is a good tax – the opposite of a stealth tax, because the payer demands to know how it is spent. Property taxes are thus a spur to democratic interest and activity. That, of course, is why politicians detest them.
Two things: this is not a plea for an increase in council tax, it is a plea for property land value taxation to capture wealth as a tax base.
Second, Jenkins’ point on tax and democracy is a good one. I have argued there are five reasons to tax:
- Raise revenue;
- Reprice goods and services considered to be incorrectly priced by the market such as tobacco, alcohol, carbon emissions etc.;
- Redistribute income and wealth;
- Raise representation within the democratic process because it has been found that only when an electorate and a government are bound by the common interest of tax does democratic accountability really work; and finally to facilitate:
- Reorganisation of the economy through fiscal policy.
Jenkins is specifically endorsing point 4 – one that few people seem to understand but which seems increasingly important.
Ritchie\’s (and Sir Simon\’s) argument here is that taxes must be visible. Those who are paying it have to know that they are in fact paying it. Only then will the peasantry rise up and demand acountability.
It\’s a very good point and one which I heartily endorse. For of course that very point is the killer blow to corporate taxation and to the Robin Hood Tax.
In both cases the claim is made that it is the company, or the banks, that will pay the tax. Yet we know absolutely that this is not so: corporations and banks do not, cannot, pay tax. As even the new economics foundation has realised, such taxes are paid by some combination of suppliers, consumers, workers or shareholders.
Such taxes are thus invisible to those who are really paying them: which means, by Ritchie\’s own reasoning, that they are bad taxes and should be abolished, to be replaced with taxes that are visible and which thus create that democratic vigour which is so desired.
Excellent, I look forward to him campaigning on the point.