Sunday, 7 September 2008

One argument against a windfall tax

A windfall tax on energy companies seems to the left-of-centre policy position of choice at the moment. But Unison capital stewardship geezer Colin suggests it can been challenged from a workers' capital perspective. Simply taking a chunk out out of the energy companies' profits looks like a 'victimless crime', afterall we all know these companies are making huge prices while the rest of us are facing rising energy bills.

Yet the big energy businesses are public companies. We own them via our pension funds and other savings. Therefore taking a slice out their profits reduces the amount they can pass on to us in the form of dividends, which in DC schemes means lower pensions. A windfall tax might seem like we're sticking it to Evil-Global-Mega-Corp PLC, but actually it might turn out that the impact of the tax is felt elsewhere.

Colin suggests that a better approach would be to get investors to work more closely with companies to achieve greater energy efficiency. Shareholders could accept a slightly reduced dividend if the retained profits are used on say a drive for better insulation.

3 comments:

Charlie Marks said...

Ah, comrade. The argument against a windfall tax is that the capital would be better managed if the energy companies were publicly owned and democratically managed...

Tom P said...

I might be willing to entertain that idea actually Charlie!

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