I’ve been rendered almost speechless because I’ve run out. Against my will, I was subjected to the BBC’s Any Questions this evening. I had to make my excuses and leave after twenty minutes. That shit must violate some convention or other. I was never a rugby player at school, but the drop-kick I was about to deliver to the radio would have attracted admiring looks from the blokes gathering in New Zealand for the forthcoming professional ruck-fest.
Some daft bint in the audience asked if it was “moral” to consider reducing the top rate of tax from 50% (“consider”, mark you; it hasn’t even been done). Fifteen minutes they argued the toss - Stephen Dorrell, Simon Jenkins, Shami Wossname from Liberty, and some Labour low-life - and by the time I could take no more, the words “Laffer curve” hadn’t passed the lips of anyone in the hall. Nor was any mention made of these interesting figures from yesterday’s City AM:
The top one per cent of taxpayers (roughly speaking, those on £150k and above) will pay a record 27.7 per cent of the total income tax take in 2011-12, according to HMRC (they earned 12.6 per cent of total income, down from 13.4 per cent five years ago). This has increased from 26.6 per cent the previous year, 21.3 per cent in 1999-2000, 14 per cent in 1986-87 and 11 per cent in 1981-2.
And Eyebrows Healy thought he was squeezing them till the pips squeaked. Amateur.
Another astonishing statistic is that the 14,000 people on £1m a year or more will pay £14.2bn in income tax this year.
The Labourer actually brought this up, to illustrate how “effective” the 50% rate was. The government ploughs its way through £14.2bn in about a week (I’m mulling over a post about the progress of Savage Tory Cuts™ in my own patch of dear old Glasgow toon to illustrate in some small way how it manages this feat). And, as I say, the Laffer curve doesn’t exist on Planet BBC, so nobody asked whether a 40% rate might actually raise more. The way it, you know, did before.
Oh, and point of information, whoever you are (I really don’t care): the government doesn’t “have £2bn to give away” to anybody. It’s borrowing that much every week.
They will contribute almost as much to the exchequer as the total paid by the 13.93m people earning up to £20,000 a year, who will fork out £14.9bn.
So you want the “rich to pay their share”, to “shoulder their part of the burden”. Okay. I’ve done some back-of-an-envelope sums here. For the record, £1m is 50 times greater than £20,000 (even my mental arithmetic is good enough to work that out). The average person earning more than £1m is worth… how many times more to the exchequer than those poor saps on less than £20k? 50? Don’t be daft. They aren’t paying their fair share, remember? So, 20? 25? Try 993.
Forget the practicalities of Laffer for a moment; the question was about morality. Where is the morality in asking ordering someone to pay up to a thousand times more simply because he has over fifty times more? ‘Cos I’m struggling to see it. Yes, I realise that these are averages for people above and below these thresholds, and someone earning exactly £1m isn’t paying exactly 993 times as much as somone earning exactly £20,000. But thanks to “progressive” taxation (50% rate or no 50% rate) he’s still paying well over 50 times the tax. They don’t need that much? It’s “unearned”? Says who? The bloke jangling the jailor’s keys, flanked by burly coppers. Hand it over or else. Oh yes, very bloody moral. Nice pile of cash you’ve got there… it’d be a pity if anything were to happen to it. Or you. The epitome of fucking virtue, that is.
Chakra-batty claimed that she hadn’t seen any evidence of high rates of taxation causing business leaders to make more amenable arrangements. Give it time, love, you will…