The Un-Free, Anti-Enterprise Group

The “Free Enterprise Group” is made up Tory MPs who are usually relatively sensible and allegedly right-wing, so Guido cannot understand why they keep coming up with such bonkers ideas. First they wanted to tax the old even more, now they want to put VAT on food and kids’ clothes. The idea is that the 20% rate is lowered to 15% but exemptions are abolished, so it would apply to all purchases. The Mirror has rightly given them a deserved two page kicking, calculating that: “A weekly grocery bill of £54.80 would go up by £8.22, an outing for £251.10 worth of under 14s clothes would jump £37.66 and a fuel bill of £1,267 would rise £127.” 

Guido cannot help but wonder what kind of supposed free enterprise group wants to extend the reach of VAT, introducing a blanket tax on every transaction. Cutting the rate is all well and good, but how can these self-proclaimed right-wingers possibly sell to voters the idea that their grocery bills, energy and kids’ clothes costs should all go up? As group member crazy Kwasi Kwarteng admits: “This is controversial.”

That Permanent Austerity in Full

The usual bedwetters are lining up this morning to proclaim that Cameron signalled never-ending austerity last night. They’re moaning about ideology etcetera.

Have a look at what Dave actually said:

“We have a plan – and we are carefully implementing that plan. Already we have cut the deficit by a third. And we are sticking to the task. But that doesn’t just mean making difficult decisions on public spending. It also means something more profound.

It means building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently.

It can be done. Consider these facts. There are 40 per cent fewer people working in the Department for Education – but over 3,000 more free schools and academies, with more children doing tougher subjects than ever before. There are 23,000 fewer administrative roles in the NHS – but 5,000 more doctors, with shorter waiting times. So you can have a leaner, more efficient, more affordable state that actually delivers better results for the taxpayer.”

Guido will believe the “leaner, more efficient, more affordable state” when he sees it, but it is hardly an unreasonable aim? What do the left have against being careful with taxpayers’ money? If you are opposed to efficiency, then you are the ideological one…

Green Ed’s Taxes are Officially Under Review

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson has confirmed this morning that green subsidies on energy bills are now under review. Just yesterday Cameron said that those very same green subsidies were “necessary”A quick and welcome u-turn, even by Dave’s standards…

These taxes bump up gas and electricity bills by up to 9%. Without nationalisation government cannot dictate how energy companies are run, any more than it can dictate the price of oil. What it can do is ease the pressure for bill-payers right now by suspending Ed Miliband’s levy. This isn’t some notional freeze in the future, you don’t have to wait until 2015 to do this. The Tories should bin their commitment to these taxes right now, and let Ed be the one who pledges to increase energy prices at the next election should he want to bring them back. If Green Ed thinks there is a cost of living crisis, he should be big enough to admit the part he has played in it.

LibDems Will Put Up Taxes on Those Earning £50,000+

Most of the LibDem lines to take that were accidentally leaked to the press were pretty dull, yet their plans to put up taxes on anyone who earns more than £50,000 has piqued the attention of hacks. Especially given it will hit many senior political journalists. The memo points out:

‘We are looking at how the richest 10% of people, those earning over £50,000, could make a further contribution. The vast majority of people in the country would consider £50,000 a very large salary: these are not the middle income earners.’

That one could become an election issue…

Hodge Blames Gordon For Vodafone Tax Dodge

Margaret Hodge isn’t wasting any opportunity to bleat about the £84 billion Vodafone/Verizon deal today:

“We must demand reassurance that HMRC has thoroughly examined this proposition to ensure British taxpayers get their rightful share of this massive profit. If there’s a flaw in legislation it has to be urgently addressed by Treasury ministers. I don’t understand how anyone can justify such a massive windfall without handing a fair share to the Exchequer. If this is an instance in which Vodafone has simply played the system then clearly they themselves have an obligation to UK consumers, on whom they depend for their business, to do the right thing.”

Flaws in legislation, you say? Well the two companies are exploiting the so-called “Substantial Shareholder Exemption” loophole to legally dodge the tax, the very same loophole used by Guardian Media Group when it sold Autotrader. SSE is a corporation tax exemption for businesses disposing of a substantial shareholding in a part of their business. The idea is that businesses should be able to restructure their businesses without having to worry about chargeable gains implications. And who was it introduced by? One Gordon Brown…

UPDATE: That “flawed tax law” Hodge is complaining about? She voted for it.

Why Mansion Tax is Electoral Suicide

Knight Frank has crunched the numbers and calculated that to raise the target £2 billion, the mansion tax would have to start at £1.25 million, hitting 775,000 households. This would of course be levied overwhelmingly on London and the South East, 86.4% of the properties affected would fall in these areas. Calling it a “mansion” tax is grossly disingenuous too:  just 36% of these “mansions” are detached. 31% are terraced, 22% are flats and 11% semi-detached. Is a terraced house in Merton or Wandsworth, like the one above, really a mansion? 

The table below shows the top ten local authorities with the highest number of homes that would be affected by the mansion tax:

Click to enlarge.

If he has any sense Tory chairman Grant Shapps is right now crafting a mailshot to every single one of those 775,000 homeowners…

Tory Councillors Spend Taxpayer Money to Dodge Tax

Kent County Council has spent over £5,000 of taxpayers’ money on financial advisers in order to challenge an HMRC decision to tax their travel expenses. Tory council leader Paul Carter clearly really, really doesn’t want to have to pay tax on the expenses he claims for ferrying himself around Kent. So much so that he has even proposed a 47% increase on councillors’ mileage allowance. Well if you can’t abuse your position as a councillor to ensure you pay less tax, what’s the point?

Via Kent Online.

Labour Lessons in Reducing Your Tax Bill to Zero

KenCo “paid every pound of tax he is required to by law”, said Ed. Nothing wrong with the Labour leader’s own inheritance tax avoidance either. Nor the £210,000 tax dodge by the owners of the former Labour HQ. Not to mention the John Mills donation given to the party in shares to avoid a bill from the Exchequer. Or those clever little legacy schemes that help donors reduce their own inheritance tax bills. Now another perfectly legal means of avoiding tax: Labour has reduced its corporation tax bill from £561,000 to zero by offsetting expenses and previous tax losses. Despite a £2.8 million surplus. One for Margaret Hodge to investigate with her usual vigour…

Does this Government Care About Middle Class Families?

Guido knew that the structure of marginal tax rates following a decade of Brown’s insidiously stealthy taxation and redistribution was malformed. How malformed was only driven home after reading a note from the Centre for Policy Studies. It is […]

+ READ MORE +

Red-Faced Nigel’s Offshore Trust Fund

Nigel Farage has admitted he set up an offshore Isle of Man trust fund in 2003 for tax reasons. His accountants tell the Mirror he made no money from it though:

“It was a mistake for three reasons. Firstly, I’m

[…]

+ READ MORE +

WATCH: Dave’s Tax Dodge Dishonesty

Brutal stuff from Dave on Labour’s tax avoiding donor:

“It is this government that is putting aggressive tax avoidance at the heart of the G8 agenda, and what do we hear this week from the Labour Party? They give

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Labour Tax Dodge Could Pay For 70 A&E Nurses For a Year

Miliband’s tax dodge during the Q&A after his speech was nowhere near good enough to make the questions go away. Ed vows that the reason the Mills donation was made in shares is because “he wanted the Labour Party to […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Adam Boulton says David Cameron campaigned as a neo-Thatcherite…

“The manifesto programme, with its sell-off of social housing, clampdown on public sector strikes, EU in/out referendum and benefit cuts, represents a much more traditional, neo-Thatcherite conservatism than that offered by Cameron Mk 1…”

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