18th April 2016
Let’s Talk About Tax
I must admit that in the “water cooler” moments of my life, I am not hearing outrage at the tax affairs of our prime minister and the list of celebrities whose stories have filled the pages of our newspapers. I am hearing observations that surely everyone would do the same thing.
What did make me angry recently was when I saw tweets with links to a Daily Mirror article about Jeremy Corbyn’s upcoming appearance at Glastonbury. It was just another daft decision on Corbyn’s part as far as I was concerned, but reading on, I saw what fellow performer Adele had to say on tax:
“I’m mortified to have to pay 50 per cent! I use the NHS, [but] I can’t use the public transport any more.
“Trains are always late, most state schools are s*** and I’ve gotta give you, like, four million quid – are you having a laugh?
“When I got my tax bill in from 19, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire.”
I simply could not get my head around how you can have so many millions, yet resent parting with some of the money when it was needed for perhaps a toddler with leukaemia in Great Ormond Street Hospital, or to fund a police force protecting vulnerable people from crime. Adele does use the roads after all, and I was glad that I had never bought any of her music.
I know that this may make me sound a little left-wing, but I do appreciate the benefits of paying tax for what we as a society receive in return, whether in health, schools, law & order, national security, libraries or even the simple pleasure of a visit to a museum.
I can remember the fury when Margaret Thatcher died and the taxpayers’ money we would be spending towards her funeral. I was not upset at all, regardless of how I felt about her politics or the personal wealth of her surviving relatives. As far as I was concerned, most of that money would be used to pay the wages of security, catering and other staff who may otherwise be out of work.
I have heard some odd ideas on the subject of tax. That ‘the money goes to the government’, as if all the MPs who make up the government of the day are sitting on a pile of money which they keep for themselves.
I also remember Sharon Storer who confronted Tony Blair outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in 2001. She was unhappy at the treatment her partner had been receiving there.
Ms Storer was later interviewed on television and I wish I had the actual transcript. From what I remember, she was asked about whether taxes should go up to improve standards of healthcare. She said that it should not be paid for by ordinary working people.
But from where is the government supposed to get the money, if not from ordinary working people?
The case illustrated to me that we don’t always appreciate the connection between the taxes we pay and the services we receive.
Another big tax story of recent weeks is that of the “tampon tax”. I am not overly concerned to be paying this tax as I believe there are far more pertinent issues to protest about. Especially as the issue has been used as a stick with which to beat the EU, placing the blame on EU rules.
If we want to help people who we feel are being unfairly penalised, then perhaps we should look at the tax we pay for toilet paper, as people are doing around the world.
In 2002, the Labour government advised us all to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. I wholeheartedly welcomed this, although I do like my fruit and veg!
A portion of orange juice can make up one of the five portions – so why are we being taxed for it? As we all know, vitamin C is essential for good health, and a glass of orange juice in the morning can provide you with much of your vitamin C requirement for the day. So come on Twitter, if you really need to hashtag over tax, how about calling for an end to the tax on orange juice?
By Paddington Baby