Ed Miliband will tomorrow pledge to abolish the non-domicile rule which allows very wealthy people to avoid paying tax on much of their income. The Labour leader will say:
‘There are people who live here in Britain like you and me, work here in Britain like you and me, are permanently settled here in Britain, like you and me, but aren’t required to pay taxes like you and me because they take advantage of what has become an increasingly arcane 200-year-old loophole. There are now 116,000 non-doms, costing hundreds of millions of pounds to our country, it can no longer be justified, and it makes Britain an offshore tax haven for a few.’
The party isn’t sure how much it would raise from this change, but that’s not the point in any case. The Tories have begun to respond, with Michael Gove telling Newsnight that it could lead to talent leaving this country for good. But the party must know that whatever the intellectual arguments, this party has a strong emotive force as it involves tax avoidance.
It should be treated in the same way as the top rate of tax should be treated: with great care by a party always at risk of being viewed as the party of the rich. The Tories didn’t recognise the extent of the political problem caused by scrapping the 50p rate in 2012 until it was too late, but they should be wise by now as they respond to this Labour policy, one the Opposition has been saving for an opportune moment close to polling day.
Politicians should leave the wealthy alone– they already contribute more than their fair share
Join us on 22 April for a Spectator debate on wealth and politics. Are wealth taxes the answer? Or is it wrong to squeeze the rich? Chaired by Andrew Neil.For the motion: Toby Young, William Cash and Fraser Nelson. Against the motion: Owen Jones, Jack Monroe and Molly Scott Cato MEP. For tickets and further information click here.