Sunday, 23 November 2008

Taxing the rich...

I've just about picked my jaw up off the floor after watching the news. The Beeb's Nick Robinson has revealed that the Government is suggesting a new top rate of tax of 45% on incomes over £150,000, to kick in after the next election. Just when you thought the news had started getting back to normal too. A few initial thoughts...

1. It surely won't raise that much money. There just aren't that many people earning £150k and up. As such it will run the risk of coming across as a bit of a populist stunt.

2. It's probably going to be portrayed as the death of New Labour and/or the revival of Old Labour.

3. Precisely because it's on such high incomes it's going to be hard to paint it as a tax on aspiration, as the Tories would no doubt like to. Not great for them to say that they will reverse it if they get in either.

4. It's going to hit many of the people that the punters blame for the financial crisis.

5. It's going to hugely popular on the Left, and amongst disenchanted ex-Labour voters. It's difficult to argue that there's no difference between the parties now.

6. I can't believe Brown would allow this if he didn't expect something similar to happen in other countries.

7. It still might not make any difference to our polling. Just being realistic, like.



Charlie Marks said...

1. Right, put what's wrong with populism? Most people think that those with the most should give the most.

2. That distinction matters little these days. For goodness sake full-scale bank nationalisation is being refered to as the "nuclear option" - which means, it's an option!

3. There aren't going to be many people on a 150k+ wage by the time it's implemented.

4. Better than a prison sentence, surely?

5. Sure. Labour-voters I know (not political types) were begining to think of voting for other parties because of the percieved (actual?) bias against ordinary people.

6. Obama will let Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy expire, effectively doing the same.

7. Alone, maybe not, but as part of the decision to spend out of the recession, it will be beneficial for Labour's poll ratings.

CharlieMcMenamin said...

The Guardian seems to suggest it may raise between £1.2-2bn. Not 'huge' in the face of the fiscal deficit, but hardly inconsiderable. Richard Murphy is more cautious, however, and says there are :
"..better ways of raising tax on the wealthy than increasing their tax rate, per se. NIC on investment income and higher class 1 national insurance rates are two, simply because they are hard to avoid. But this would still be welcome."

But I agree about it's political impact - except in the very short term this is not going to be decisive either way in terms of electoral popularity. That will depend on the course of the economic crisis overall.

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