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Tax

Well, yes…..

Households that pave over their gardens to build driveways should face extra charges because they contribute to urban flooding, a report commissioned by Sadiq Khan has suggested.

The London Climate Resilience Review has warned that paved gardens “pose a lethal risk to Londoners” by increasing surface water flooding.

It recommends that the Government consider introducing stormwater charges based on the amount of non-porous paved surface in a garden.

Mr Khan, the London Mayor, said he would work with the Labour Government to take forward the recommendations in the report.

Porous surfacing that allows rainwater to drain away has decreased by nearly 10 per cent across London since 2001, as more households choose to pave over their gardens to create driveways.

So, they’re charging you to park in hte street now. And also, more and more it’s necessary to have somewhere to charge the car. So, of course, they then want to tax the result of their own policies. Obviously.

Everything else is just an excuse.

An interesting question woulfd be, well, OK, so extra stormwater to deal with., The cost of that is? And so the tax should be? And then, finally, what will the cost of the tax assessment and collection system be?

Well, we know this is wrong

Dressed in a sober black blazer and talking with trademark briskness, the prime minister urged Italy’s ruling elite to “put those who create wealth in the best conditions to produce it”.

“The more wealth that is produced, the more the state can use its share of that wealth to provide the solutions citizens are waiting for,” she said. “The purpose of a tax system is not to stifle society, but rather to help it prosper.”

Disagrees with Spud so obviously it must be wrong. Or, disagrees with Spud and is therefore highly likely to be sensible. Your call there.

The Guardian being confusing about numbers. Again

Michael Jackson had accumulated more than half a billion dollars of debt when he died in 2009, new court documents reveal.

OK. Which leaves the impression that he was broke.

The IRS has argued that the estate “undervalued its assets” and owed about $700m more in taxes and penalties.

Estates are taxed upon net values. So, if there was tax due from the estate then the assets must – must – have been worth more than the debts. He wasn’t broke that is.

No, changes in the value of the estate after his death do not count – for the value at the moment of death is the value of the estate.

Dunno how serious this worry is

A “double death tax” under Labour would add tens of thousands to families’ inheritance tax bills, analysis has shown.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has warned that Labour could not only increase inheritance tax but also start to charge capital gains tax on assets passed on when people die

Both could mean up to 85% tax on at least parts of an estate. They want to change CGT to be taxed like income. So, up to 45%. Plus 40% IHT.

Seems, umm, excessive?

You surprise me

The Telegraph has revealed a £278m black hole in its finances as a result of loans extracted by the Barclay family which are unlikely ever to be repaid.

Rilly? The kiddies of ageing into senescence enmtrepreneurs don’t have the knack?

Blimey.

And isn’t that an argument against the need for inheritance tax?

Abject nonsense

Trump reportedly promised the CEOs he would cut corporate taxes even further and curtail business regulations if elected president.

Trump’s 2017 tax cuts reduced the rate of corporate income taxes from 35% to 21%. That has cost America $1.3tn.

Those tax cuts, along with the tax cuts put in place by George W Bush, are the primary reason that the national debt is rising as a percentage of the economy.

But it’s Bob Reich, so of course it’s nonsense.

The government, the Treasury, is not “America”. So, whatever the cost or the benefit has been to the Treasury’s tax collection is different from whatever the benefit or cost has beemn to America.

Also, corporate income tax is about $400 billion a year. A number that’s held remarkably steady since 2015 in fact. The lowering the rate while widening the base (those foreign proifits are now taxed even if they stay outside the US) hsa led to roughtly the same revenue – agreed, cash terms. But the Treaury really hasn’t lost three whole year’s worth of coproate income tax revenue in these few years.

What worries me here

Labour is signalling this weekend that it intends to clamp down on a loophole that allows thousands of investors in private equity deals to avoid paying income tax.

How do you do that without taxing sweat equity at income tax rates?

I’m sure it’s possible but who has confidence in politicians getting it right?

A very fun point

What is less recognised is that there is an important relationship between the levels of taxes and the structure of a country’s economy and society.

Partly because our tax rates have historically been lower, but also because of features such as our tradition of a solid rule of law; confidence that UK governments (regardless of their political hue) will not introduce arbitrary wealth confiscation; our welcoming attitude towards foreign immigrants and foreign investments; the UK tends to attract a disproportionate amount of the world’s most mobile capital and high-income labour.

Think of finance professionals, lawyers, high-skill management consultants, highly-educated design professionals and those in similar professions.

The UK creates and trains its citizens into these roles, disproportionately to our share of the global population, and we also attract foreign-born workers of this type.

We also draw in foreign investors and manage the assets of wealthy individuals and institutions.

The ability to entice this globally-mobile capital and high-value labour is what is called “competitiveness”. Other economies envy our ability to do it.

But one side-effect of our having high shares of such mobile factors is that if we tried to raise taxes on them they would tend to depart.

In any country the attempt to raise taxes beyond a certain point risks failing, because the attempt to raise taxes damages the economy enough that taxes actually fall rather than rising.

But in the UK, because such a high share of our economy involves highly-globally-mobile capital and labour, the issue is more acute than elsewhere.

Very fun indeed. Now, how overwhelmingly important it is is another matter. But it’s a very fun – and clearly true to some extent – point to make.

I’ve been on something with Troup

A former top civil servant who is advising Labour on tax has suggested the threshold for VAT registration should be halved in a move which would hit hundreds of thousands of small businesses.

Sir Edward Troup, a former head of HMRC, said that lowering the threshold would have “been a better way to remove a barrier to growth” than the Government’s recent decision to raise it.

Labour announced earlier this month that Sir Edward would be advising the party on “improving tax compliance” and “modernising” HMRC.

We both gave evidence in the same session to a Commons committee.

It would be fair to say that he knows little of the economics of taxation. Lots about HMRC, about tax, about bureaucracy and government, as you’d expect, but little about the economics of taxation.

However, the move was criticised at the time by Sir Edward. Responding to the news on X, formerly known as Twitter, he said: “Halving the threshold would have been a better way to remove a barrier to growth.”

Such a move would result in hundreds of thousands of additional small businesses having to charge VAT.

According to one set of costings seen by The Telegraph, lowering the threshold to £50,000 – a figure close to Sir Edward’s suggestion – would mean 351,000 more businesses having to register for the tax in 2025-26.

Sir Edward and others have argued for the threshold to be lowered on the basis that it is high by international standards, and because there is evidence that small businesses limit their annual turnover to avoid having to register.

None of that is a good economic reason to lower the VAT limit. A good economic reason to keep raising it is that VAT imposes bureaucracy costs. £90k is still in the region of one man bands – £50k definitely, even definitively, is. It is not desirable to load sole traders with that bureaucratic burden. Therefore we shouldn’t.

These people are mad

Ministers of Germany, Brazil, South Africa and Spain: why we need a global tax on billionaires
Svenja Schulze, Fernando Haddad, Enoch Godongwana, Carlos Cuerpo and María Jesús Montero
Finance chiefs say higher taxes for the super-rich are key to battling global inequality and climate crisis

Billionaires should pay minimum 2% wealth tax, say G20 ministers

Hmm.

By directing two-thirds of total expenditure on social services and wage support, as well as by calibrating tax policy administration, South Africa continues to target a progressive tax and fiscal agenda that confronts the country’s legacy of income and wealth inequality.

Ah, yes, they are mad. They’re trying to use the bastard thieves of the ANC as the example of where this new tax revenue should go.

Quite, insanely, crazy.

Could just be the weather of course

More than 1,000 higher rate taxpayers fled Scotland to the rest of the UK after Nicola Sturgeon’s government introduced two more income tax bands, a Treasury analysis has estimated.

A paper by UK government economists found the changes introduced in 2018-19 led to 1,030 higher earners moving south, costing Scotland £61 million in tax receipts that year.

“Fled” might also be a bit strong. Decided, on balance, to move?

Rather than the claims being made here it would be fun to know the full and overall numbers. Did the tax rises lead to an increase in income collected? If so, what was the difference between hte amount and that forecast? All that stuff.

Abigail Disney supports a billionaire’s tax

This week, finance ministers and central-bank governors from G20 countries will meet in Washington DC at the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They will have a chance to commit to raising the taxes of wealthy people.

At the recent São Paulo, Brazil meeting in February this year, economists and G20 finance leaders floated the idea of instituting a global minimum tax on the world’s billionaires, who are now more abundant in number (2,781) and in combined wealth ($14.2tn) than ever before. This tracks with countless recommendations and requests from economists and communities all over the world, including a proposal for a 2% tax on billionaires from the EU Tax Observatory in its groundbreaking report last year.

Finance ministers from both Brazil and France came out publicly in support of this idea, and a handful of other countries have quietly assured activists they are supportive of the policy framework.

Abigail Disney can voluntarily pay more tax if she so wishes.

Abigail Disney is, apparently, worth $120 million.

Taxes for thou richer than me, apparently.

Could be, I guess.

Angela Rayner is expected to claim that she was not required to pay capital gains when she sold her former council house after offsetting the tax with a kitchen renovation.

The deputy Labour leader is likely to argue that enhancements to the property, which she purchased under the “right-to-buy” scheme, meant that there was no tax liability.

Have to be a hell of a kitchen…..

Terrible, terrible

Everton has paid about £30m in interest charges to an opaque lender associated with a tax exile, corporate records suggest.

A tax exile? Oh, you mean someone who doesn’t live in the UK?

Documents relating to companies in separate offshore jurisdictions suggest the trail of Everton’s RMF debt leads to Michael Tabor, a Monaco- and Barbados-based racehorse owner and leisure entrepreneur.

Yeah, right

Rachel Reeves has said an incoming Labour government would launch a £5bn crackdown on tax avoiders to close a gap in its spending plans exposed by Jeremy Hunt scrapping the non-dom regime to finance tax cuts.

That is, of course, simply a £5 billion rise in taxes. Because avoidance is the entirely and wholly legal process of organising your affairs according to the tax law. Changing those rules will indeed change how much tax is paid. But it’s a tax rise all the same. Because avoidance is that legal thing, therefore to change the rules so that it cannot be done is to raise taxes.

This woman is ignorant

Or, of course, malicious:

Tessa Khan, executive director of campaign group Uplift, criticised the Government for passing on decommissioning costs to the taxpayer.

She said: “The oil giant, which made over £22bn in profit last year, isn’t even on the hook for the whole clean-up operation. Thanks to tax breaks for oil and gas companies, UK taxpayers would have to cough up a large proportion of the decommissioning costs, even when the industry is rolling in profits.”

Lying scum.

As The Telegraph actually explains (which is good, so I don’t have to):

If upheld, the decision will be costly for both Shell and the Treasury, as taxpayers’ money is used to fund the cost of decommissioning North Sea platforms.

Shell’s tax report shows that the company has already claimed £600m in UK rebates since 2018, including £43m last year.

However, this compares to the £20bn of tax revenues generated by the Brent oil field since 1976.

The Treasury treats the cost of decommissioning offshore assets as a genuine business expense which can be offset against profits made in previous years.

The tax on those pfotis in former years has already been paid. So, we’ve now an expense which is allied to those former years’ profits and taxes paid – thus we get a tax credit now.

Blimey, seems to miss a bit

In his budget speech Jeremy Hunt made the following statement. “The average earner in the UK now has the lowest effective personal tax rate since 1975 — and one that is lower than in America, France, Germany or any G7 country.”

Given that the overall tax burden — the tax take as a fraction of national income — is reaching record levels, it is a remarkable claim. I have neither heard nor seen much commentary on it.

The answer actually is obvious. But not in fact said:

Lots of inflation has been good for VAT revenues.

That’s the only reference.

But the answer is that the tax system has moved – partially, to be sure – over to taxing consumption rather than income. VAT is at more than double the rate it was in 1975. We’ve the insurance tax, APD, landfill tax and on and on and on.

We should have done this too, consumption taxation is less distortionary than income taxation. But that’s what the explanation is all the same.

This is fun

Currently it is UK domiciles who pay inheritance tax but once the domicile status is abolished, the Government wants the levy to apply to UK residents who have been in the country for longer than 10 years.

What makes it difficult to move abroad and not pay inheritance tax is that domicile status. Residence, thus tax on income, is relatively easy to dodge. Dimicile, thus inheritance, much more difficult.

But if the domicile status is being abolished, then dodging inheritance by moving abroad becomes much, much, easier.

Or so I would logically think at least.

Again, one of things sorta true

Because Ms Coates earns the majority of her wealth from her salary rather than dividends or other instruments, she is liable for a higher amount of tax than many other business chiefs. Ms Coates and her family are thought to have paid around £460m to HMRC last year.

If you own the company then, well. Salary is paid out before corporation tax. Income tax is higher than dividend tax. But the two together – at these sorts of levels at least, after the small scale allowances – run pretty much the same by design. Corp tax plus dividend tax isn’t far off income tax alone.

NI changes it again. Which is why the personal service company works. But it is still necessary to add in divvie and corp tax together to compare to the income.

This is one of those joys, isn’t it?

The head of Britain’s trade union movement and the boss of a leading retailer have joined forces to demand the government takes tougher action to catch wealthy tax dodgers.

Paul Nowak, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and Julian Richer, founder of the Richer Sounds hi-fi chain, said the public were losing out on up to £36bn a year in taxes owed by companies and individuals that were not being collected.

In a joint intervention before next week’s budget – when the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is expected to prioritise pre-election tax giveaways – they warned HM Revenue and Customs lacked the necessary funding to chase down businesses and the super-rich for non-payment, avoidance and evasion.

Avoidance. Structuring your affairs so as to reduce your tax bill. A reasonable enough definition, yes?

Mr. Richer sold Richer Sounds to an employee trust. One of the effects of that is to leave him with no CGT bill. And, if I’ve read the issue right – and there’s no guarantee I have – the funds received also will not form part of his estate for inheritance tax purposes. That last sounds so unbelievable that I’m sure I’ve misunderstood in fact but that is as far as I understand it right now.

This is, of course, wholly, entirely and completely legal. But it’s a bit much to be lectured on tax avoidance by the man, no?