Saturday, January 28, 2012

Taxing Thoughts

I paid my tax today. Because I'm self-employed, I have to pay it in two chunks generally: one before the end of January and another chunk at the end of July. This is based on what Mr Taxman thinks I will owe, based on what he thinks I will earn.

It's really not predictable, so what tends to happen is that one year I pay too much and the next year I get a refund. This, sadly, is a payment year.

I work for up to ten different employers. Some of them deduct tax on Pay As You Earn: some don't and pay me the gross amount, leaving it to me to pay the tax owing.

I don't actually enjoy handing the money over, of course - who would? - but I do believe in paying taxes to finance education, the National Health Service, the police, the arts - - and all kinds of other things.

I think, for example, that public transport should be subsidised, and everyone encouraged to use it where possible. I don't like passengers on trains described as "customers" - I think they should be "travellers". There's a subtle difference. Trains should be a public service, not a commercial venture.

It does not, however, please me to learn that millions of taxpayers' money is wasted on inefficiency in all kinds of areas. I'm still thinking of the trains here - - but that is not, of course, the only area in which it happens. And it annoys me when people use the blanket term "inefficiency" to mask huge cuts in services.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if we could choose how our taxes are spent. The government could provide us with a list of areas where the money might be used. They could make a list of a hundred or so things we might spend it on, and we could choose, say, ten of them.

Now there are some disadvantages to this that I can foresee - - very rich people spending it all on subsidies to people who have more than three cars and a house with more than ten bedrooms - - but I'm sure it could be evened out so this didn't happen. Even the choice of things to spend it on could be decided on a one-man-one-vote basis.

If I'm ever in power, I might try it. Because then, surely, we would most certainly get the money spent in the way we choose. If we end up with a country with great holes in its provision - - well, we have that now! My system would be fairer, though. And whenever we grumbled about something that was missing we would know it was entirely our own fault.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

In Lincoln in 1974, Denis Healey said he would "squeeze property speculators until the pips squeak". He always denied that he ever said he would also do this to "the rich" but I would and I would go further, rooting out all the cunning methods that the rich use to dodge the taxman. Ordinary people who work harder and need money more than the rich do have virtually no opportunity to indulge in tax avoidance.

3:17 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Don't remind me. I haven't yet begun to do my tax return.

1:53 pm  
Anonymous Shooting Parrots said...

In these straitened times, it might be more appropriate to have a list of what we want them to stop spending money on.

Cutting the tax-funded subsidy for the bar and restaurant for MPs would be a good start!

3:31 pm  
Blogger Jan Blawat said...

Yes!!! I'd vote for you. I think if people could decide where the money was spent, my stupid government wouldn't have been able to start their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and our elected officials surely wouldn't get such a lovely benefit package. The only vote we have in our bastardized democracy, though, is for whichever idiot has risen to the top of the poop pile. Not that I'm unhappy or anything, this being an election year AND it's almost tax time.

6:33 pm  

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