Do Corbyn’s Core Voters Really Want to Pay More Tax?

The TPA’s Chloe Westley asked Corbyn’s core voters in his Islington constituency whether they would like to pay more tax. Then she gave them the chance to put their money where their mouth is…

Big State’s Tax Take Hits 49-Year High

After eight years of Conservative government and supposed austerity, the tax burden this year is at a 49-year high, at 34% of GDP, with total government revenues this year at a 32-year high, at 37% of GDP. The 3% gap being the deficit. The government is spending a whopping £30,000 per household.

The state is growing, even inflation adjusted spending has doubled in the last half-century, with the curve going up steeply when Gordon Brown was splurging on welfare spending in the late 90s.

The financial crisis in 2008 saw expenditure sky rocket. The UK can only become a high growth economy if it is a low tax economy. If the tax take goes any higher, investment will go elsewhere…

Download the TPA report: Tax Burden

Taxpayers Pay £1 Billion-a-Week UK Debt Interest

Liz Truss has kindly reminded Guido that the Treasury has other problems besides Brexit. The taxpayer is funding debt interest of over £1 billion-a-week, which is more than the budget for Scotland and Wales combined. Remember that when hear Scottish and Welsh MPs demanding more taxpayer spending. When John McDonnell proposes to borrow £500 billion, remember who will pay it back. You, the taxpayer…

Truss: Fund Spending Plans With Cuts Not Taxes

The Truss / Gove banter last night has been blown out of all proportion, with one headline about the story actually reading: “Tory Cabinet Falls Into Open Warfare”. It was a joke about Gove rhyming with stove. Believe it or not, there are more important Cabinet splits than this one…

The row has distracted from the more interesting contents of the Truss speech, which was as sound an intervention as you are ever going to get from a minister in a Theresa May government. You can read it in full here. One interesting line was her endorsement for the Centre for Policy Studies’ campaign to fund the government’s spending plans with cuts rather than tax rises. She wants MPs to attend a series of meetings to make proposals for cuts to waste and low value areas of spending, to be published by the CPS at Tory party conference.

“The more government spends, the higher taxes have to be… higher tax means less money for me to decide when to go on holiday or buy a new car… there are many ageing countries with advanced economies that do not have high tax and spend… Canada, after the misconceived expansionist years in the 1960s, when they raised taxes and nationalised businesses…rescued their economy in the 90s by cutting spending and balancing the budget… All across the world, countries are addressing their problems not simply by raising tax and spend, but by reshaping and reinventing themselves… Some of my colleagues are not being clear about the tax implications of their proposed higher spending… I want to take a zero-based, zero-tolerance approach to wasteful spend. We need to take a look at ourselves and think “what is the best way to use the money entrusted to us?” We have to make every pound pull its weight. We have to make every pound pull its weight.”

It is all too rare these days that any Tory makes these noises. It is the polar opposite of Number 10’s approach, and far more interesting than the Gove bluster. At least one leadership candidate will be backing lower taxes next time round…

Health Minister Admits NHS Spending Funded Entirely By Taxes For Years

Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price admits the obvious: there is no Brexit dividend while we continue to pay our subs to the EU. That means no Brexit dividend until at least two years after Brexit. Which means the new NHS spending during those years will be paid for entirely out of taxes (and possibly borrowing). In reality the vast majority of the money will come from taxes after the transition period is over as well. Which is not what Number 10 is trying to spin us…

Onward to Higher Taxes

The government currently has no idea how it wants to raise taxes to pay for the £20 billion-a-year funding increase for the NHS. Step forward Tory MP Neil O’Brien, the former Osborne SpAd who recently co-founded the Onward think tank, with a proposal: freezing the personal allowance for two years. His plan to effectively hike taxes for all voters will raise £4 billion a year, which still leaves a huge black hole.

Labour’s policy is to whack the super-rich with new taxes. This Tory plan proposes to stop low earners, middle class voters and everyone else from keeping more of the money they earn. Which one do they think the public are going to vote for? The Tories are shifting the Overton window way to the left, fighting on Corbyn’s territory, and leaving people with no reason to vote Conservative. This madness is only going to make it more likely Corbyn gets into Number 10…

May: NHS Spending Will Be Paid For With Tax Rises

Theresa May and the Number 10 spin team have done an impressive job of getting ‘NHS spending funded by Brexit dividend’ as the top line on broadcast this morning. The truth is the vast majority of the new money is going to come from tax rises equivalent to 3p on the basic rate of income tax. The Tories are refusing to say how or when the tax rises are coming. So far they are getting away with a completely uncosted policy and massive mystery tax rises. This is the Tory magic money tree…

No.10 Sounding Out Tory MPs Over NHS Tax

Tory MPs have been asked for their views on a new NHS tax in the clearest indication yet that Number 10 is considering hiking taxes to increase funding for the health service. In multiple meetings with Theresa May’s aides, MPs have been asked for their views on both a hypothecated tax and a general tax rise. Downing Street has detected some support – an NHS tax should theoretically clear the Commons as Labour could hardly vote against. Jeremy Hunt has previously claimed the public supports “contributing more through the tax system”, though Philip Hammond has argued against a ringfenced tax. The Tories are expected to announce a major funding boost for the NHS on its 70th anniversary on July 5.

The tax burden is already now higher than it was under the dead hand of Gordon Brown in 2009 and it will, if the OBR is correct, hit a level not seen for two generations. The day at which the average person starts to keep what they earn rather than pay it to the state in taxes is now later than at any time since 1995 – even worse than under new Labour. Britain now has a higher tax burden than Spain, the share of GDP taken in tax is a full 10 points higher than it is in Ireland and 8 points higher than the traditionally low tax USA. If the Tories want to spend more on the NHS it can be done without raising taxes – that wasn’t on the side of the bus.

Ruth and Hammond’s Radical New Tory Ideas: More Taxes, More Spending, More Regulation

After a month of think tank launches and relaunches, op-eds and policy papers discussing the new radical policies the Tories need to win the next election, Ruth Davidson and Philip Hammond have come up with the uninspiring, unoriginal idea of high taxes, new regulations, more intervention, more borrowing and more public spending.

Ruth today says the Tories have cut taxes far enough and demands more money for the NHS, presumably funded by tax rises or extra borrowing. Her call comes the day after Tax Freedom Day, the point in the year at which the average person starts to actually keep what they earn rather than pay it to the state in taxes. That day now comes later than at any time since 1995 – even worse than under New Labour. Government spending is at £30,000 per household. There is room to solve the housing crisis and make sure the NHS is properly funded while bringing down overall spending and lowering taxes.

Hammond, meanwhile, is planning a speech arguing that Thatcherite free market capitalism is no longer fit for purpose and that greater state intervention is needed to win over young voters attracted to Corbyn. This is such a lazy analysis of the the 2017 result. The ‘youthquake’ theory has been largely debunked, polls are showing a clear trend towards young voters now preferring the Tories to Corbyn, and under 25s are more likely to think the government taxes and spends too much already. As are 25-39 year-olds and 25-49 year-olds. 

Ruth and Hammond’s blunt big state approach is not new, it’s not original, it’s not radical, it is the same, tired, old ideas of more taxes, more spending and more regulation. Not only does it concede ground to Labour and play Corbyn’s game – and he can always promise more spending and regulation than the Tories – it doesn’t even correctly identify the direction in which young voters want to see the country to go. Will Tory members and voters really go for it?

Happy Tax Freedom Day

Today marks Tax Freedom Day, the point in the year at which the average person starts to actually keep what they earn rather than pay it all in taxes. According to the ASI, in 2018, every penny the average person earned up to May 28th went into the taxman’s pocket. Tax Freedom Day falls three days later than last year…

It is now later than at any time since 1995 – even worse than under New Labour: as the ASI notes, “since 1995, the trend has been for parties of all stripes to increase the total tax burden.” So much for the low tax Tories…

SNP Overriding Devolution Settlement to Impose Westminster Policy

It isn’t just the hypocrisy of Margaret Hodge that has been exposed by her attempt to force public ownership registers on UK overseas territories. The SNP are backing her amendment to override the devolution settlement of another territory and impose this “colonialist” policy from Westminster. At the same time as opposing the EU Withdrawal Bill on the grounds that Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit. Seems the Nats’ commitment to devolution stops at the coast of the UK…

British Virgin Islands Accuse Hypocritical Hodge of “Colonialism”

Tax hypocrite Margaret Hodge took a kicking from Lorna Smith of British Virgin Islands Finance on the Today programme this morning, who accused the Labour grandee of “colonialism” for attempting to force them to introduce public ownership registers. Hodge’s amendment, backed by Corbyn, is in the Commons today. Well worth a listen to hear Hodge skewered…

As Guido has chronicled, Hodge had a £1.5 million shareholding in 0.01% tax rate-paying Stemcor. 96,000 Stemcor shares awarded to Hodge in 2011 came from the tax haven of Lichtenstein. Now she is attempting to enforce “colonialist” tax avoidance measures on the British Virgin Islands. You don’t get more hypocritical than that…

Labour Spent Hundreds of Thousands With Google, Amazon and Daily Mail Group

Corbyn and McDonnell have repeatedly singled out Google and Amazon as tax-avoiding baddies and vowed to get “aggressive” with them… turns out aggressive means Labour paying Google Ireland Limited £250,000 and US-based Amazon Web Services £22,000 during the general election.

Labour also gave Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, £12,000 for advertising during the campaign. The Corbynista ‘Stop Funding Hate’ cranks not so loud about that one…

Jolyon’s Failed Vanity Cases Cost Crowdfunders £350,000

Britain’s most insufferable lawyer Jolyon Maugham is taking a break from Twitter today and going to court in his latest attempt to stop Brexit. Maugham will petition for a judicial review against the Electoral Commission, arguing the regulator failed to investigate Vote Leave-BeLeave campaign donations. The Electoral Commission has already investigated the donations twice…

Speaking of donations, rather than putting his stupendous QC’s income where his mouth is – and, indeed, despite being a lawyer himself – Jolyon is using other people’s cash to fund the legal bid. He’s crowdfunded nearly £50,000. What can his donors expect for their cash?

Not much, if his form is anything to go by. In May 2017, Maugham went to the High Court of Ireland in an attempt to reverse the Brexit vote after Article 50 was triggered. The case was opposed by the Irish government and was struck out by Mr Justice Peter Kelly. More than £70,000 was crowdfunded…

Then, in February 2018, Maugham was involved in a similar case in the Scottish courts. Lord Doherty of the Scottish Court of Session ruled:

“I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome. However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect…” 

A gentle judical admonishing of Jolyon’s grasp on reality. Crowdfunding for this failed case raised over £60,000…

As Guido reported, Maugham also tried to judical review David Davis over the Brexit sector analysis papers. Mr Justice Supperstone rejected permission, finding a simple (and free) FoI request was a suitable alternative. That failed judicial review was also crowdfunded: £59,275. When he loses, do people get their money back? “Any surplus funds will be held for the costs of other litigation”…

Jolyon, a specialist tax barrister, sued Uber to demand a 56p VAT receipt. When Guido says he sued we mean he suckered £107,650 from crowdfunders and cabbies to back this case. Vaingloriously making the claim in his own name he suspended the action when he realised that if he lost the case – a very real possibility given his less than stunning record – Uber would seek to recover their costs from him personally. Unwilling to put his own money where his suckers crowdfunders did, he pathetically said he was looking for an alternative claimant who didn’t have any material assets to take the risk. Not exactly brave leadership…Hapless Jolyon Maugham has therefore spent over a third of a million pounds (£350,000) of other people’s money vainly pursuing his agenda, entirely without success. All he has got for the money is gout. The crowd that backs him can afford to take the pain…

Labour Vote Against Stamp Duty Cut They Backed In Manifesto

Labour MPs have voted against the proposed cut in stamp duty, despite backing it in their manifesto just six months ago. Overall, 228 Labour MPs voted against the second reading of the Finance Bill which includes the tax cut first outlined in the Budget. Shadow Treasury minister Jonathan Reynolds admitted this “was a Labour policy included in our manifesto for the June 2017 general election”, yet Labour MPs queued up to oppose the tax cut: Alison McGovern said “it is simply the wrong policy priority’”, Grahame Morris whinged:legitimate concerns have been expressed about the stamp duty proposals, which are feared to be the wrong solution”. And Stella Creasy said the stamp duty cut would: “do little for [her] constituents.” Student fees, stamp duty – is there anything Labour told voters at the election that still stands?

Tax Cuts in the Budget

Guido spotted a few welcome if modest tax cuts in the budget:

  • Stamp Duty cut worth up to £5,000 to first time buyers
  • Personal allowance will rise to £11,850 tax free
  • The higher rate threshold will rise to £46,350*
  • Tax break for transfers of North Sea oil and gas fields
  • Increase in the business R & D tax credit to 12%

A couple of freezes:

  • Fuel duty frozen again this year
  • Froze air passenger duty
  • Beer duty frozen
  • No new tax levies for renewables until 2025 at least

*Given the Scottish higher rate of tax kicks in at £43,000 canny Scots who file their tax returns in England will save themselves a few quid.

Have co-conspirators spotted any more cuts?

Momentum Plot to Treble Council Tax For 15,000 Households in Bristol

What does Corbynism mean in reality? Momentum supporters on Bristol council are plotting to treble council tax for over 15,000 households. The Bristol Post reports the Labour council there has a projected deficit of £108 million, and Momentum’s plan to balance the books is a 200% council tax rise for the most valuable 8% of properties. The remaining 92% of households would see an inflation-busting council tax increase of up to 5%.

Guido is told that this would be illegal under local government finance rules. With the return of loony lefty councils you can be sure of one thing: “Vote Labour, get higher taxes…”

Bone Schools McDonnell on Tax

Peter Bone schools John McDonnell on the difference between avoidance and evasion. And puts to him Guido’s story about Labour HQ being rented from an offshore trust

Labour Rent Their HQ From Offshore Trust

As Corbyn goes big on the Paradise Papers, it’s worth nothing that Labour rent their London headquarters from a tax exempt property unit trust fund based offshore in Jersey. Labour are thought to pay nearly a million pounds a year to lease the eighth floor of the Southside development on Victoria Street. The building is owned by WELPUT (The West End of London Property Unit Trust) – an investment trust established in Jersey, and managed by Schroder Property Managers (Jersey) Limited. Read their press release explaining the arrangement here.

Jersey Property Unit Trusts of this nature have a number of tax features that make them attractive – the rent Labour pays goes to Jersey. What did Corbyn say about people who send money offshore?

Corbyn Suggests Queen Should Apologise

Hang on a minute, does this mean Corbyn thinks McDonnell should apologise for his pension investments being managed offshore?[…] Read the rest

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