WATCH: Gary and Dave in Happier Times

“It does help having an internationally renowned pop star with you, I must remember to take one with me everywhere I go.”

“Got your lipstick mark still on my coffee cup…”

Labour Would Cut an Oligarch’s Shopping Bill By £125,000

Labour’s VAT cut would do nothing to cut the costs of fresh fruit, veg or canned goods, despite what their new poster implies. It would however cut an oligarch’s £5 million shopping bill for a yacht, a Bentley, some jewellery bling and champagne by £125,000. Finally a One Nation Labour policy Guido and Peter Mandelson can support…

Labour’s VAT Bombshell Blows Up in Their Face

Another day and another Labour attack on Clegg. This time they are linking the Deputy Prime Minister to the VAT rise. Only one small problem: almost all of the products they have featured to explain how “they have put £450 extra VAT on your shopping bill” are charged VAT at a rate of 0%. As the taxman says “most food of a kind used for human consumption is zero-rated”. If your shopping bill has gone up it’s not because of tax on fruit and veg. Chalk that up as another attack success. 

Pan-European Tax Burden Rising
Tax Liberation Day Receding

As Europe’s voters consider their choices here’s a list of their tax freedom days. Brits only stop working to pay for the welfare state next Monday:

tax-liberation-day
Typical workers across the EU saw their average real tax rate rise again this year, from 45.06% in 2013 to 45.27% in 2014. The rise of 1.28% since 2010 is largely a consequence of VAT increases in 19 of the 28 EU member states since 2009. This EU-wide study uses a consistent methodology to calculate how long people have to work in 28 EU member countries before they can keep their earnings and stop paying the state. Cypriot workers have the lightest burden, working until 21 March to finance their government. Belgians, who work until August 6, maintain their position as the worst afflicted. It is a noticeable coincidence that the four lowest tax countries have benefited from British rule… 

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…

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… 

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?

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.

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

[…]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +

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 […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Labour’s Austin Mitchell muses on the campaign:

“What’s the problem? No use pointing at the leader. Too late to change and unnecessary for Miliband is doing well at Question Time. His problem is connecting with the real world. He doesn`t speak people and his protective team of naive kids are playing West Wing rather than letting the leader relate to real people. We could point at the party, shrunk in numbers and enthusiasm because everything, from policy formulation to candidate selection, comes top down rather than bubbling up from below so campaigning becomes the opium of members deprived of any real role, though they`re not even sure what they’re campaigning about, with or for, but its role is marginal.”

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