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Melanie McDonagh: What I’d like to see in the Budget

13 March 2014

2:47 PM

13 March 2014

2:47 PM

Every year, I sit through the Budget, and every year there are great chunks of it that pass right over my and everyone’s head because they’re arcane and fiddly. Fabulous for accountants, obviously, because it justifies their existence. What I’d like to see in the Budget but won’t, is radical simplification of the system. Not perhaps a flat system, but much, much simpler. It used to be something George Osborne talked about, but it never happened. Anthony Hilton, the Evening Standard columnist, put the case in a piece in January last year:

‘Britain’s tax regime is as much a part of the economic infrastructure as our roads, ports and airports, but at least with them the need for improvement is accepted, even if progress is slow. But how much greater would be the boost to the nation’s economic health if we had a similar commitment to tax reform, not piecemeal but going back to basic principles, to create a system simple enough and fair enough to wipe out the tax avoidance industry? 

‘We need a commission of inquiry to devise a system suitable for the 21st century, one that could build on the work done on flat-rate tax by Lord Jacobs, the Liberal Democrat peer, and Professor James Mirrlees, who made the case 15 months ago for radical tax reform in a report published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.’

So, what came of that, then?

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The other bit of my wish list is for a transferable tax allowance between married couples – you know, the one David Cameron talked about? Your benefits are assessed on the basis of household income, but you get taxed as an individual. It’s ridiculous. Oh, and the allowance should go to higher rate taxpayers too.

And while I’m all in favour of lifting the tax threshold, I take a dim view of the Chancellor also lowering the point at which you start paying 40 per cent tax. So, make that less tax, please.


On the evening of Wednesday 19 March 2014, Fraser Nelson, James Forsyth and Andrew Neil will be discussing what George Osborne’s 2014 budget means. Click here to book tickets.

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Show comments
  • StephanieJCW

    “The other bit of my wish list is for a transferable tax allowance between married couple”

    Why – why give me a tax break purely for walking down the aisle? And why such a bizarre break that only, only gives to couples who marry and where one chooses not to work?

    • RobertC

      It allows married couples to share work, from one working full time, through to 50-50 sharing, through to the other working full time, without being hit by higher taxes.
      It should matter not who in the couple does the work, only that it is done, rewarded and taxed to the same extent.

      For those not married, see my earlier post.

      • StephanieJCW

        “It allows married couples to share work, from one working full time, through to 50-50 sharing, through to the other working full time, without being hit by higher taxes”

        And the same applies to unmarried couples. Also it would only apply if one left the workforce. Not if they both had jobs. Why are we giving people money to be in a relationship?

        • RobertC

          Because it is the best institution for bringing up children.
          It has been the fundamental building block of communities since the beginning of civilisation.
          You cannot expect this treatment for unmarried couples because they would not have notified anyone of their commitment, so it would be impossible for them to respond!

  • Daniel Maris

    Bringing in a flat rate income tax, truly universal credit (for citizens) and a new property tax, coupled with higher inheritance and a wealth tax would be fa

  • In2minds

    How about spending money on a new box?

  • White Wednesday

    What became of any radical tax reforms?

    What became of the Office of Tax Simplification?

    What became of serious reform of Brown’s heinous IR35 law? The one that Conservatives and Libdems agreed need to either be repealed or seriously redesigned….all before the 2010 election, that is.

    This administration has been largely a waste of everyone’s time and the “Osbrown” epithet is thoroughly deserved. Osborne is drinking in the last chance saloon.

    Because why have the tribute band for Labour when you can have the real thing?

  • Mynydd

    “transferable tax allowance between married couples” what about un-married couples bring up children in a stable loving relationship.

    • RobertC

      They could register their “stable loving relationship”, at the local Registry Office, to ‘be on the books’, and get their money.

      Then everyone else would say they were married!

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