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Coffee House

Labour wants you to pay more tax. But what about its tax bill?

30 July 2014

8:53 AM

30 July 2014

8:53 AM

Westminster has got in a tizz overnight because Andy Burnham has been taped saying that he still favours a ‘death tax’ of 10-15%, on top of 40% inheritance tax, to pay for social care. Burnham concocted a similar plan before the last election, only for Gordon Brown (even dear old Gordon Brown recognised a loser) drop it. Guido has a recording of Burnham’s comments, which were made at the Fabian Society’s Summer Conference in June.

Burnham was musing aimlessly, rather than articulating party policy. But, that said, one might easily draw the conclusion from this and other musings, such as Harriet Harman’s views on sports betting and football, that Labour has a rapacious attitude to your money.

In view of the above one would expect Labour to be paying lots of tax. But, on the contrary, the Financial Times reports that the latest figures show that Labour paid only £14,000 in tax last year (versus the Tories’ £187,000) on total income of £33.3m (versus the Tories’ £25.4m and the Lib Dems’ £7.3m – the Lib Dems paid just £14 tax).

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Labour says that it does not owe more corporation tax because it didn’t turn a profit. Tory spinners suggest that darker practices are at work.

I expect that most Spectator readers will commend Labour for being fully aware of its tax liabilities; careful tax planning is what smart people and organisations do. But Labour sees the broad issue in different light. For example, here’s Ed Miliband on Google’s tax arrangements:

I can’t be the only person here who feels disappointed that such a great company as Google, with such great founding principles, will be reduced to arguing that – when it employs thousands of people in Britain, makes billions of pounds of revenue in Britain – it’s fair that it should pay just a fraction of 1% of that in tax. So when Google does great things for the world, as it does, I applaud you. And when Google goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying its taxes, I think it’s wrong.

So wrong, Ed.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


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