Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Exclusive: Gov Response to Ken Slams Company Tax

Ken wrote to the Prime Minister asking for a change in the law so that the Mayor of London could only have one job. The reply fell under the purview of Grant Shapps:

Dear Ken,

Thank you for your letter of 27 February 2012 to the Prime Minister; he has asked me to reply on his behalf as the Greater London Authority Act is the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

I have considered your request carefully, but my department has no plans to amend legislation in this way.

I believe the electorate are best placed to make judgments on whether elected representatives are able to pursue other interests in their spare time. Indeed, it would be quite illiberal to pass laws restricting and regulating what individuals can do in their evenings and on weekends.

Indeed, the effect of your proposed regulations would have meant you were unable to serve as Mayor of London when you were first elected in 2000, since you were a Member of Parliament, had paid columns in The Independent and the Evening Standard, had a book contract with Victor Gollancz, and received five-figure sums from after-dinner speaking agencies. Subsequently, during the period you were Mayor, you had a continuing commercial interest in Localaction Ltd, receiving payments for television, radio and writing.

In this context, I view your new-found interest in this issue to be wholly inconsistent and a further argument against ill-thought-out regulation. Calling for regulation on ‘full-time mayors’ whilst running a part-time company is as consistent as calling for a clampdown on tax dodging whilst using a company to avoid paying income tax.

Obviously, outside interests must open and transparent – and the Coalition Government has taken steps through the Localism Act 2011 and the new local government Transparency Code to entrench such transparency in law. I would note that the Greater London Authority has been at the forefront of promoting the transparency agenda in the last four years, such as being the first local government body to start publishing its spending online.

Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government

Well Guido laughed…

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Former Coalition Ministers Club

What becomes of disgraced coalition cabinet members after they are forced to resign? Well if this morning is anything to go by it seems they perform a pincer movement on George Osborne, calling for tax cuts.

If Huhne weighed in it would be a full house…

While there is an irony about Fox complaining it is too hard to sack people, he makes some good points in the FT:

The budget must confidently assert that capitalism works. But it doesn’t work if failure is rewarded as if it was success. …individual risk and effort is not rewarded when the UK government share of GDP has risen from 38 per cent in 1999 to 51 per cent in 2011, the effective top rate of tax is over 50 per cent, and CPI inflation for the last five years has averaged 3.5 per cent.To restore Britain’s competitiveness we must begin by deregulating the labour market. Political objections must be overridden.

In the GuardianDavid Laws follows up Monday’s Newsnight outing with a welcome call to speed up taking the poorest out of tax. He wants to put up taxes though to fund it. Hmm…

A cynical person might think this must be coordinated, but Guido isn’t so sure. There’s no doubt that Laws’ interventions are sanctioned by his leader, though Guido doubts the same can be said be said for Fox. Steve Hilton will like it, but No.11 sources seem rather relaxed about the whole affair this morning…

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Clegg’s Progressive £10,000 Threshold Hike
Benefits Low Income Earners Most

A lot of chaff is being thrown up about the £10,000 tax threshold hike being pushed by Clegg this morning. Matthew Sinclair over at the Taxpayers’ Alliance has sent this chart proving the point Guido has been making all day. Those on low earnings benefit proportionately the most.

Those on lower earnings, e.g. the second decile (£10,853 according to ONS data) will see their post-tax earnings rise by 4.7%, those in the highest decile will see their post tax earnings rise by just 1.1%. Now some policy wonks on the left complain that middle income earners will see their post tax income rise by some 2% and that this is “a waste of money”. The squeezed middle-classes need some help as well, this is a good thing, not a flaw. The hike shouldn’t be paid for by once again shifting the higher rate threshold either. The coalition parties should stop piling on the pressure on the very demographic that voted them into office to cut taxes…

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tax Transparency Bill Gets Second Reading

Ben Gummer’s tax transparency 10 Minute Rule Bill was just passed in the House and will come back for a second reading in March. Chris Bryant stood  up to oppose it on the grounds that “there are better things we could be doing”, and raised various technicalities, but to no avail. It makes you wonder what he doesn’t want the voters to know? The UK is a step closer having an itemised breakdown of how our money is spent. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Taxing Question for Labour

The fact that polling shows that 69% of voters support the benefit cap, leaves Guido wondering about the other 31%. If taxpayers knew how much they were personally contributing to these handouts, you would imagine that 31% figure would be a lot lower. Enter backbench Tory MP Ben Gummer, whose plan to print a break down of taxes on a statement sent to every taxpayer, every year, has got a lot of attention this morning. The Sun are liking it and the Telegraph claim:

“If you were to discover, for instance, that £4,000 of the £10,000 you have paid in tax and NICs for the year went on welfare, it might put the argument over capping benefits into a different context.”

A sample PDF of the document is here and apparently the Treasury are listening. There is a 10 Minute Rule Bill issue tomorrow, and Guido is scratching his head to see how the Labour can justifiably oppose the idea. Any additional cost would be minimal given that statements, minus the breakdown, are already sent out. Hard to argue that people should be kept in the dark about their own money…

Friday, December 30, 2011

Toffs Taxing the Poor More

Minimum alcohol pricing won’t affect champagne drinkers, it will hit those on lower incomes. Again.

Regressive taxes aren’t just about forcing up the price of supermarket booze, it was putting up VAT – a mistake that boosted inflation which was already above target and hit consumer spending when it was already weak. Unquestionably that was a regressive tax. Even the usually austerity friendly IMF cautioned against the VAT hike.

The squeezed middle aren’t spared either. Air Passenger Duty means that a family of four flying to America for their annual holiday can pay up to £587 in taxes. The Fawkes family fly back and forth to Ireland regularly spending more on air taxes than on air tickets. UK subjects pay more in air taxes than all the rest of the EU’s citizens – combined. It won’t bother the Chancellor on his £10,000 skiing holiday weeks, but those of us in the private sector, not on benefits, reckon he could do more to cut spending and the tax burden. It is called a growth strategy…

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prime Minister Cameron proposes a retaliatory tax…

‘I’m sometimes tempted to ask the French if they would like a cheese tax’

Monday, November 7, 2011

Red Ed is Back, Chuka Under Attack, Occupiers Smoking Crack

Red Ed has made an overture to the protesters at St Paul’s, four weeks late to the prom. Some of his advisers still rooted in the reality based community have been struggling to stop Ed leaping over this latest electoral cliff, but they seem to have lost the battle. One said last week“Not since his brother David was snapped holding a banana has a dafter Miliband photo opportunity been suggested.” It’s not very hard to see why they would be concerned: multi-millionaire Ed, who maintained his family’s wealth through some colourful inheritance arrangements, despite being on an income of £139,355 plus expenses, is in 1% denial. Meanwhile occupiers have been arrested for dealing crack and St Paul’s are outraged at a “dirty protest” defecation on their steps. Just have a look at Red Ed’s new friends:

Also jumping on the bandwagon is the privately educated son of a wealthy businessman Chuka Umunna, who will be speaking for the opposition today in response to a report published by the dwindling campers. The darling of the new Labour left will be facing some tough questions if he actually goes down to the site. Tax avoidance is the number one issue to this “movement” and Umunna’s Teflon image took a pounding this weekend. He made a name for himself  in February with a punchy attack on Barclay’s Bob Diamond at the Treasury Select Committee on the subject of tax havens, forcing the banking baddie to admit that he didn’t actually know how many offshore subsidiaries his organisation had. However, in that 1% kinda way, Chuka has his own offshore dealings to thank for those sharp suits:

“A Labour frontbencher who has led the attacks on ‘tax avoiders’ in the City is at the centre of controversy after it was revealed his £1 million family home was funded from a tax haven. Land Registry documents reveal the house’s complicated ownership structure. Its purchase was funded by Vona Limited, a company registered in Jersey, and in turn owned by companies run by the RBC Trust Company. RBC, also based on the Channel Island, boasts it is one of the ‘top ten’ largest wealth managers in the world, offering services to ‘high net worth clients’ including ‘planning for and mitigating income, capital gains or inheritance taxes’.  A tax expert said: ‘These trusts can cost thousands to run. I can’t think of any reason to do that other than to reduce a tax bill.’”

One thing Chuka won’t be repeating when he leads the charge for Labour today is an off-the-cuff quote he once gave the Standard: “I’m middle class. My struggle, in some senses, is: what struggle?” Quite…

UPDATE: Does Ed agree with his new friends that poppy sellers are “baby killers”?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Osborne’s Corporatism Isn’t Fiscal Conservativism

There is often more truth in satire than news reporting and yesterday gave us an amusing example. The Chancellor’s vague plan for the Treasury to buy small firm’s corporate bonds was reported on by the Daily Mash thus:

Osborne’s offer of credit to thousands of small businesses will make Britain the first conservative-led communist state when the loans are inevitably defaulted and the government ends up owning and running everything.

The Chancellor seems to think the solution to the credit crisis is more debt, even though many businesses are doing the opposite and de-leveraging. Banks make money from lending and they lose money lending to bad credit risks. The government thinks the banks are being too cautious even though the markets think there is serious trouble ahead. Guido thinks the markets have it right.

When challenged to introduce growth-stimulating tax cuts the Chancellor refrains saying that he won’t because he is a “fiscal conservative”. George Osborne presumably would concede that Nigel Lawson was also a fiscal conservative, yet he managed to cut the top marginal tax rate from 60% to 40%. There is nothing fiscally conservative about maintaining a tax rate so perversely high it generates lower revenues by driving high earners out. This isn’t fiscal conservativism, it is political defeatism.

It is even less likely that fiscally conservative Nigel Lawson would countenance Osborne’s proposed socialisation of the corporate credit markets. When the government starts lending money to companies that no one else wants to lend to, you can be sure of one thing, they are going to lose a lot of taxpayers’ money. Billions.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ed Balls claims unconvincingly…

“My instinct is that you should always try to reduce every tax if you can…”


Seen Elsewhere

Guido’s Column | Sun
NUT’s Loony Defence of Status Quo | Jago Pearson
A Dozen Reasons to Be Cheerful | John McTernan
Political Bloggers Are Equal Opportunities Attackers | ConHome
Michael Gove Should Resign | Conservative Women
Sarah Wollaston’s Naming and Shaming of Bloggers | LibDemVoice
Fraser Nelson: Put Your Money on Ed Miliband to Win | Guardian
Guido Fawkes is Too Aggressive | The Times
Ditch Tobacco Plain Packaging | Grassroots Conservatives
What Farage, Boris and Rob Ford Have in Common | William Walter
Labour Spell New Adviser’s Name Wrong | ITV


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Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:

“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.

Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).

Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.

I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”



orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?


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