Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Labour Finally Admit Bedroom ‘Tax’ is Not a Tax

Very helpful of Labour to provide us on Budget Day with a comprehensive list of tax rises that have taken place under this government:

The 24 Tory Tax Rises

1. VAT increased – to 20 per cent from 2011
2. Income Tax age-related allowances frozen and eligibility restricted (“Granny Tax”) from 2013-14
3. Income Tax higher rate threshold cut to £42,475 in 2011-12
4. Higher Income Child Benefit Charge introduced 2013
5. National Insurance Contributions rates, limits and thresholds increased in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2012-13
6. Income Tax higher rate threshold frozen at £42,475 in 2012-13
7. Insurance premium tax increased – from 2011
8. Capital Gains Tax increased – to 28 per cent for higher rate taxpayers from June 2010
9. New Beer Duty introduced on high strength beers from 2011
10. Duty on hand-rolling tobacco increased by an additional 10 per cent from 2011-12
11. ISA subscription limit uprated in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2012-13
12. National Insurance Contributions changes to contracting-out rebates from 2012-13
13. Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount frozen, 2012-13
14. Stamp Duty Land Tax increase to 7 per cent on properties over £2 million from 2012-13
15. VAT increases on a range of items, including caravans, sports drinks, and listed buildings from 2012
16. Duty on tobacco increased by RPI + 5 per cent in 2012
17. Income Tax higher rate threshold cut to £41,450 in 2013-14
18. Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount increased in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2013-14
19. Income Tax cap on reliefs introduced from 2013-14
20. Pension tax relief restricted from 2014-15 21.
21. Income Tax higher rate threshold Increase capped at 1 per cent in 2014-15 and 2015-16
22. Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount increase capped at 1 per cent, 2014-15 and 2015-16
23. Inheritance Tax threshold frozen in 2015-16
24. National Insurance Contributions ending of contracting-out rebates from 2016-17

Eagle eyed readers will spot that one thing is missing: the “hated bedroom tax” is not on the list. Which means Labour must have at last decided that it is not a tax after all. Better late than never…

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How Osborne Can Outwit Clegg Tomorrow

osbo-clegg-outwit

It is no secret that the budget is expected to see an announcement of the raising of the income tax threshold. It is no secret because Clegg is boasting at every opportunity that he can that this is a LibDem policy to help the low paid. With some justice, co-conspirators will remember that Daniel Finkelstein argued that raising the threshold was unaffordable and “punk tax cutter” Guido argued it was affordable and politically savvy. Nick Clegg joined the argument about this policy before the election – on Guido’s side. In government the policy was implemented by Osborne as part of the coalition deal. Nevertheless the LibDems get all the credit for the policy from the voters.

So how could the ever political Osborne get the electoral credit for the policy? Let Guido suggest how his speech might play out:

“Mr Speaker I have received many representations, not least from the junior partners in the government coalition, about raising the minimum tax threshold by £500, I have decided to reject these representations.

Mr Speaker it is not in the country’s interest to risk the stability of the economy…

[JEERING FROM OPPOSITION BENCHES]  

…it is for that reason that I have decided that now we are seeing balanced growth, falling unemployment and a stable macroeconomic outlook, to raise the tax threshold by £1,000 to £11,000. The Conservative Party is a tax cutting party and when it is prudent to do so we will cut taxes for everybody. This tax cut removes the tax burden from thousands more people on low pay.”

In one stroke Clegg is outbid on fair taxes, the policy is reclaimed for the Tories, Osborne is cheered by his backbenches and the lowest paid are better off. Even better, most of those on in-work benefits will see their benefits reduced by an equivalent amount. The Brown benefits dependency culture will be undone a little bit more… 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Another Comedy Tax Blunder
Rufus Hound Company Uses Tax Minimising Celeb Accountants 

‘Comedian’ turned wannabe politician Rufus Hound embarrassed himself when he said “David Cameron wants your kids to die” while announcing his decision to run for the European Parliament last month. Moralising Hound summed up his policies as:

“We all pay our little bit of tax and our fair share, and for that we expect schools, hospitals, police, fire service and a little bit of defence.”

But does Rufus himself pay his ‘fair share’?

Bob Simpson, as Rufus is actually called, is the owner of a company called Dogface Limited, which has no discernible presence anywhere and has just one other director: his wife. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun, for some reason Dogface’s registered address is exactly the same building as that of showbiz accountants, Blue Skies Partnerships. On its website Blue Skies promises clients “we ensure you always pay the legal minimum amount of tax” and even has a whole section devoted to “minimising your tax”. Is that the same as your ‘fair share’?

Bob did not dispute the story yesterday:

Always looking to pay the minimum amount possible, eh Bob?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mehdi’s Corporate Paymaster Censors Critics

In a change from side-boob and upskirt shots, Mehdi Hasan is frothing about ‘corporate welfare’ (geddit) over at the Huffington Post. He’s attacking the media for being complicit with large companies and banks:

“They are aided by their friends, allies and outriders in the right-wing media echo chamber, who have never had to endure the indignity of turning to payday lenders or food banks in order to survive.”

Which is odd given that Mehdi is aiding his corporate paymasters by censoring comments about the tax status of the Huffington Post’s parent company directly below his rant. Guido has been trying to leave the following comment all day:

“AOL turned over £56,801,000 last year yet manage to pay only £9,000 in corporation tax. How so? Could it be because HuffPo is losing money or that its UK owner, AOL Limited, repatriates profits to escape paying its dues in the UK to the Luxembourg-registered AOL Europe Société à responsabilité limitée. If Mehdi cared about the millions in corporate profits being exported by multinational corporations he wouldn’t work for one of the worst exemplars”

Sadly that inconvenient truth does not fit Mehdi’s agenda.

Monday, January 27, 2014

IFS Demolish Balls Plan

Balls couldn’t resist a love-in with the Institute for Fiscal Studies back when they were criticising the government in 2012, crowing that:
“The IFS is right to cast doubt over the so-called ‘findings’ of the review of the 50p top rate published by the Chancellor. They say that it is uncertain that the cost of cutting the 50p rate is as low as Ministers claim and that it is too early to judge the true effect.”  

Well for some reason he doesn’t seem to want to listen now that they’ve demolished his 50p tax rate plan this afternoon. In a withering assessment, the IFS concludes:

“The best available estimate of what reversing the cut would raise is therefore about £100 million too… at the moment, the best evidence we have still suggests that raising the top rate of tax would raise little revenue and make, at best, a marginal contribution to reducing the budget deficit an incoming government would face after the next election.”

 What was that about always listening to the IFS?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Guardian Sells Autotrader Stake for $1 Billion
Moment of Tax Truth for Guardianistas

In 2011 this blog ran a Guy News investigation into the Guardian’s offshore tax dodge in the Caymans. We followed it up in 2012 and Guido personally asked Alan Rusbridger and GMG plc’s CEO to explain the continuing holding of assets offshore. No reply was forthcoming. In 2012 we checked to see if GMG was still using GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited, the controversial tax-exempt corporation which it set-up in 2007.

Subsequently in 2008 The Guardian claimed GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited, a GMG-owned company, would be transferred into their investment partner Apax’s offshore structures, normally when this happens there is a name change. The name is unchanged to this day, strongly suggesting the ownership was unchanged. At the very least Apax/Guardian will have saved themselves $5 the million in stamp duty which would otherwise be due to HMRC by doing the transaction offshore:

No pronouncement from Polly Toynbee as yet. Guido is consulting beancounters on further tax implications of the deal…

Further reading on the Guardian‘s tax hypocrisy:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mo Runs from Osborne

After his double gold Olympic glory, Mo Farah said: “I don’t know anything but England. When I run for my country I’m proud.” Ed Miliband called him “a hero for our country”, the Prime Minister wanted to give him a knighthood. Boris did the Mo-Bot…

Awkward then that Mo has applied to become a tax exile in Portland, Oregon, US – to reduce his bill. And who can blame him. Similarly, marathon champ Paula Radcliffe – after Gordon Brown raised the top rate of tax – moved to Monaco. As Guido pointed out in the Sun yesterday, the usual suspects  condemn such behaviour by the rich but, when it comes to these Olympic heroes, are silent…

Monday, January 6, 2014

Osborne Promises Another £12 Billion Benefits Salami Slice

Talking the talk, Osborne has claimed “government is going to have to be permanently smaller and so is our welfare system”. Finally, if he is to be believed, the Tories will be “permanently cutting people’s taxes by permanently cutting spending”. He’s making the right noise at least, but when?

The Chancellor has pledged a further £12 billion of cuts to benefits from 2015 to 2017, yet the overall bill is £174.3 billion. Barely a dent. From the gloomy tones of the speech it’s not looking likely that tax cuts will come this side of an election either. This looks like playing politics rather than any genuine commitment to walking the walk.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bah, L’Humbug!
Hollande’s 75% Tax Rate Approved by French Courts

Francois Hollande’s Christmas present to the French people is a 75% tax rate. The hike was ruled unconstitutional a year ago but the French courts have u-turned and now, despite huge protests from business leaders and the country’s star footballers going on strike, those earning over €1 million will pay a top income tax rate of 75% to their socialist government. Another nail in the coffin of the Hollande plan that Miliband endorsed. Expect a queue of Ferraris on the French-Swiss border tonight…

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wonk Movements: All Change at TPA

Big wonk movements last night, with Matt Sinclair leaving his position as chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance to jump ship to Europe Economics. He is replaced by the TPA’s current political director, Jonathan Isaby who has gone from hack, to wonk, to boss in under five years. Research director John O’Connell is promoted to Director. Fact: Isaby owns every single Now That’s What I Call Music album ever released.


Seen Elsewhere

Comply or Die at Grauniad | MediaGuido
Labour Beats UKIP in South Yorkshire | LabourList
Mock the Week’s Weak Comedy | Nigel Farage
Can Jim Murphy Save Scottish Labour? | Guardian
There is Still Appetite for the Westminster Lunch | Jon Craig
Labour Turn Their Backs on Jewish Community | Dan Hodges
Chivalry is Not Dead | Laura Perrins
Jonathan Jones is a Tw*t | Iain Dale
Second Scotland Poll Suggests Labour Wipeout | Times
Paedo Probe Boss Urged to Quit | Sun
Keynesian Tories Won’t Eliminate Deficit | Tim Montgomerie


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