Coffee House

How tax transparency can help the Tories

17 March 2014

5:45 PM

17 March 2014

5:45 PM

George Osborne is as adept as any gamekeeper at setting little traps in every Budget and Autumn Statement for Labour to fall down. He hinted at a few in his Marr interview yesterday and they were largely the sort we’ve come to expect from the Chancellor on welfare and deficit reduction, but there’s also speculation that he could set another trap on tax.

Ben Gummer’s 10-minute rule bill calling for National Insurance to be renamed the ‘Earnings Tax’ received a disproportionate amount of attention for what is normally simply a parliamentary device by which a backbencher can garner a little bit of attention for their hobby horse. But the reason it received so much attention was that it was made quite clear that this proposal had sympathy at the highest levels of government. It could well be that this sympathy translates into action later this week, which would be another awkward trap for Labour as it would mean that any attempts to close the post-election black hole by sneakily raising National Insurance would be trickier when voters are encouraged by a new name to associate this payment with a tax rather than some benign social investment that they personally benefit from.


But this isn’t the only clever thing that Ben Gummer has proposed that makes the Treasury happy. Later this year, the first tax transparency statements will be sent to voters, offering a breakdown of how their taxes are being spent. This was another 10-minute rule bill from Gummer that was adopted by the Chancellor. Like the Earnings Tax idea, these statements have a noble aim of making the tax system a little clearer for voters, but Conservative sources also point out that they’ll be most useful for their party as they’ll show not only how much of taxpayers’ money is spent on welfare, therefore making it just that bit easier to make the case for further cuts to that budget. They also think that the statements should show how comparatively little is spent on Europe and the foreign aid budget, which they hope will make it a little easier to justify continuing with both (which will please the European Mainstream bunch if nothing else).

If only every MP had such a success rate with 10-minute rule motions.

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Show comments
  • William Haworth

    If the foreign aid budget is so tiny, could they please pay half of it into my bank account? I could send George O my details any time he wishes.

  • Daniel Maris

    Gummer…Gummer…Hmmm…sure I’ve seen that name somewhere…

    Wasn’t there some guy called Gummer who fed his children potentially diseased meat burgers at risk of causing mental imbalance in future years?

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Correct a fact in your otherwise totally irrelevant and utterly pointless comment which amused nobody except yourself.

  • Smithersjones2013

    So that’s it? Purile rebranding of a tax and pointless letters no doubt costing millions telling everybody what the government is wasting our money on are the brilliant wheezes that get Hardman’s juices flowing is it?

    With idiots like these running the country and commenting on it it is no wonder the country is completely screwed……

    • Tony_E

      It’s not pointless, though it might appear so.

      The population of this country are largely ignorant to the level of taxation they are subject to. They see a headline price for something but they only see that. The tax isn’t continually broken down for them. It’s easier for high spending governments to operate in that way. Finding benign names for something, especially when they are redundant or misleading is another trick.

      Get rid of those obfuscations and then the public might start to understand the level of the mendacity of the ‘civil service’ which constantly showers our money around the place like confetti in the belief that government will always find a way of making sure the tap stays wide open.

      If the public’s eyes are totally open, the net contributors will soon figure out who they are, and you can expect to see a change in attitude about waste and public spending.

  • lgrundy

    All goods and services subject to any form of hidden sales tax should be clearly priced to show the ‘before tax’ and ‘including tax’ prices. If the airlines can do it why not petrol stations general retailers etc?

  • AnotherDave

    Perhaps they could expand this idea to our gas and electricity bills.

    • Smithersjones2013

      They have, Oh what you haven’t noticed? Well that’s the Impact of Tory whizzo wheezes all over

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    So nowt happened in Crimea yesterday or today then. Or nothing less vacuous than this or the electric bill story below.

  • telemachus

    Wishful thinking
    National Insurance Contributions are ingrained words that weasel Osborne is not big enough to change
    Besides Ed Balls has too much guile to fall for this

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Yes I think we can all remember his last display of guile when the puce faced stuttering idiot made a monumental fool of himself responding to the Autumn statement. A truly pointless and cretinous performance from a witless oaf.

    • Tony_E

      National ‘Insurance’ has never been anything of the sort. It’s always been a con perpetrated by the state upon its citizens. Insurances are savings – ring fenced for your own use and guaranteed by law. NI on the other hand is simply a tax to add to the ever larger spend of the reckless ‘civil’ service and the folly of larger and larger government.

      There’s no guarantee (especially if you are young now), that you will ever get any value for that tax grab in the future as it’s all being pissed away as we type.