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Via City A.M. – Boris on Starbucks and DC on judicial review


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On the cover of City A.M. this morning, Boris Johnson argues that Starbucks must do more for the UK. Apparently, the Mayor said of Starbucks, “It needs to reflect very fast and very seriously on its position…Either it makes a change in its tax arrangements or does a lot more to visibly serve society.” Now, I was critical of Starbucks in the press myself, but the Mayor is mixing up two issues: paying tax and serving society. As I said […]

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I won’t support Labour on fuel duty – or duck the issue of spending


Today, we’ll be debating an Opposition Day motion on fuel duty, which I want cut. It’s shocking that 60% of the pump price of petrol is tax. Nevertheless I won’t be supporting Labour. It’s one thing to be supported by Labour on a important constitutional point — Parliament’s control over our EU budget contribution, for example — but it is another to support them on an Opposition Day designed to injure the Government. In any case, fuel is 10p a […]

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Two speeches on sound money, the morality of taxation and the cruel fiction of state power


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I spoke yesterday to the European Young Conservatives on the origins of the crisis in excess state power, deficit spending, debt and debasement. Here are the slides: And this morning, I spoke on the morality of taxation alongside Syed Kamall MEP, Cllr J P Floru and Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers’ Alliance. My remarks are here: PDF. My central message was the same on both occasions: if we really care about human welfare, especially the welfare of the poor, we need to […]

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Speech on tax avoidance and evasion


From my speech yesterday on tax avoidance and evasion: The heart of this debate is the question of altruism. My feeling is that Members of all parties often feel that people constructing sophisticated avoidance schemes are insufficiently altruistic. There are a wide range of perspectives on that. Rarely in this country do we hear the cry, “All tax is theft”, but at one extreme there is the rather childish hysteria of objectivism, which totally rejects all altruism, and at the […]

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More unexpected borrowing?


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Yesterday, we learned “public sector net borrowing was £0.6 billion in July 2012; this is £3.4 billion higher net borrowing than in July 2011, when net borrowing was -£2.8 billion (a repayment)”. Compared to say May, when we borrowed £17.9 billion, £600 million seems relatively modest. It’s still the gross annual earnings at the national average wage of over 23,000 people. Apparently, it was a surprise to economists (again). They expected the usual July surplus. As far as I recall, […]

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Cui bono? How much your labour costs and who receives the benefit


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Brought forward from August last year. People on ordinary incomes still pay too much Each employee’s labour costs their employer a certain amount: their salary plus employers’ National Insurance Contributions (neglecting other benefits). How much does the employee actually receive to spend as they see fit? As a guide, we looked at the figures for a single man employed full-time, making median gross annual earnings. He saves nothing and spends the average percentage of his earnings on goods and services rated […]

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A judgment on tax avoidance


One of my colleagues passed on this quote regarding tax avoidance from about 80 years ago: Lord Clyde, President of the Court of Session, ruled: “No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. “The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open […]

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Crony capitalism is so entrenched, we scarcely even spot it


The Transport Committee met today for an evidence session on low carbon vehicles. It illustrated that crony capitalism is now not merely entrenched and passed over, but borne out of the good intentions of a global regulatory elite. In the first session, we learned that “consumer demand is lagging policy”, which I translated as “people don’t want to buy these expensive vehicles” (I’ll link to the transcript later). We learned that electric vehicles are expensive and impractical: £30,000 for a […]

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Arbitrary and capricious power anyone?


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Successive governments have incentivised people to buy ‘greener’ cars which use less fuel. Apart from outrageously high fuel duty with 20% VAT on top, the other tool has been Vehicle Excise Duty graded to promote low CO2 cars. Having herded people down this road, apparently the Government now finds it cannot afford to lose the tax revenue. The Telegraph reports Drivers punished for going green: The Daily Telegraph has learnt that government officials have begun private discussions with the motoring industry […]

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The moral case for lower, simpler taxes and a request for a debate


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This week, the 2020 Tax Commission published its final report (PDF). Yesterday, Eamonn Butler wrote Don’t ignore the powerful moral arguments against high taxation. I recommend the whole article, but this section is particularly compelling: Tax reduces people’s ability to act morally. They might prefer to spend their money on helping their children become good citizens, caring for their elderly relatives, or supporting good causes. Instead they see it taken and going on bank bailouts or expensive prestige projects. Though we wish […]

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