Tag Archives: tax

Cumbernauld and Shipley

A couple of weeks ago I was on a British Airways flight to Italy. These days this involves a ‘short haul economy dining’ experience lovingly crafted by Marks & Spencer. Gone are the days of infinite free mini wines on the way to tipping a man in a gimp suit into a canal in some desolate European burgh. It’s now £2.30 for a ‘Twinings English Breakfast tea 12oz’ on the nation’s flagship carrier and oh how proud they make us all.

On this flight was a man with a desperate thirst for £1.80 worth of bottled water. You can only pay by card these days, ever since airlines realised that without the weight of a bag of pound coins you can fit an extra seat on each wing, so this man handed over his plastic.

“Would you like a receipt?”

“Yes please.”

Continue reading Cumbernauld and Shipley

Perish the race and wither a thousand women

The 1st of February is  a day so comically aligned with the disenchanted masses it is acknowledged as “National Sick Day”.

‘So what?’ I hear you murmur. Well, let’s try and put this in perspective: absence without proper leave is said to cost UK business anywhere between 10 billion and 29 billion pounds, a hefty wedge. The current government’s solution is to make cuts at the heart of British society, the NHS being the most obvious victim, with cuts reported to range around 20 billion.

Agencies have sprung up with offers to track and manage absenteeism. Fair play, they’ve noticed a problem and tried to fix it while making some cash for their effort. Good, good.

But if we want perspective,  perhaps we should look at what happens to cause this phenomenon. There are the classics: poor pay rate, lack of decent holiday, zero-hour contracts and a one-way glass ceiling you will never break through. Up ahead, all you see is darkness, while the suits scornfully mock us feebly trying to survive, in an all-too-Orwellian big brother style. Being disenfranchised with the mega corps shiting all over you is more than enough reason to flip them the occasional bird and concentrate on your life. A moment’s respite from the crap they’ve been shoveling down our throats for decades.

And in striving for this true sight of perspective, it’s impossible to ignore the latest way corporations have chosen to rub our noses in it: illegal corporate tax avoidance. Did you know that the UK loses out on almost £70bn a year? That’s right, those very groups bitching about unauthorized absence have in fact committed the very same crime on an massively larger scale.

And they should expect a strongly worded letter or two, right? Surely the Chancellor is on that? Surely he wouldn’t allow the little guy to be persecuted while letting corporations get away with it? Surely he’s created his very own ‘Untouchables death squad’?

More like the ‘Unfortunately not squad’, as in ‘unfortunately we are not doing a bloody thing to stamp out gross acts of corporate greed and chicanery’. In fact, we are firing 12,000 people. Can’t risk the people finding out about the heavy levels of theft and fraud being committed by Fortune 500 CEOs and the Times Rich List. That would never do. Let’s sack a load of them instead.

‘Perish the race and wither a thousand women’, said George Bernard Shaw. He also talked of ‘a child-robber, a bloodsucker, a hypocrite, and a cheat’. Who could he have been referring to?

The Humanity Tax

I sincerely hope I never have to take out a payday loan. The theory behind them is sound enough – if you need to pay a bill or two before your next pay cheque comes in, go to a company with a name that makes debt sound fun and exciting and they’ll give you what seems like free cash at the time but turns out to cost you so much it makes your eyes water like a kick to the cock.

But being in a position to have to take out such a loan must be horrible. Not being able to afford such luxuries as food and toilet paper cannot be the route to contentment. Handy, then, that the government have just made it harder for people who can’t afford to repay such a loan from getting one. People who can’t afford to eat are now going to find it harder to scrape enough together for a box of eight No Frills fish fingers with breadcrumbs that make you cough up blood.

There are people in the world who are really, really fucking skint, absolutely potless, wearing clothes made almost entirely of boracic lint. Some, no doubt, are living well beyond their means, unable to resist spaffing money they don’t have on whatever shiny new treat the TV and their peers demand they own RIGHT FUCKING NOW. The vast majority of people with little money, though, are not in that boat. They don’t have enough money because a small section of people have decided they need it a lot more. They need their second billion more than you need your second tenner.

You know who they are – ‘the 1%’ as they are popularly termed. There’s one over there driving a yacht bigger than the village your uncle used to enjoy living in peacefully before he froze to death last winter. There’s a woman on the television explaining why she should keep her enormous bonus despite the company she runs having directly contributed to the physical and mental abuse of patients at the care home they manage in a brutally lucrative outsourcing arrangement. Oh look, here comes a man wearing a tie-clip and a very big grin, who last night used a £50 note to light a ciger. He needs another £50 to replace that one a lot more than you need it for a ‘grab bag’ of Cheese & Onion.

People tend to accept that this is the way of things. Politicians piss about with tiny taxes on bankers’ bonuses and ruling out miniscule levies on financial transactions. Well, no more. It’s time to introduce the Humanity Tax.

Here’s the detail: you’re allowed to keep a certain amount of money in the various accounts you have in parts of the world famous for nothing but banking, like Turks & Caicos, wherever the hell that is. Everything above the upper limit goes into a big fund that will be shared among a vast number of charities, many of which will be devoted to such rascally schemes as housing the homeless. If you dip below the maximum amount you’re allowed you can earn your way back up to it, but anything beyond that maximum limit will be taxed at an entirely fair level of 100%.

The rich need new golf clubs sometimes, I understand that. So we’ll set the level at…let’s say £500 million. Honestly, I struggle to see what anyone could possibly hope to do with half a billion pounds but I accept that there are people who want to go to the Moon, and that it probably won’t be free. It’s claimed that if you stop people from earning staggering amounts of money they’ll simply stop trying, and entrepreneurship and innovation will just end. What’s the point in making life better for people if you can’t make yourself filthy rich out of it? I think you could argue in response that £500m is probably enough for a healthy supply of logs for your suitably opulent Chesney’s fireplace.

The second aspect of my Humanity Tax involves inheritance. In short, there won’t be any. When you die, everything you have earned up to that point is put into the same charity pot, along with all your savings and everything you own. I’m not a monster; if you have offspring living in a property you own at the time of your clog-popping they’ll be allowed to keep that property, but they have to pay back the value of that property over a number of years, when they earn enough, like tuition fees. The holiday home in the Seychelles that you visit once a leap year that stays empty the rest of the time? We’re sorry to hear you’re dead, but that’ll be ours thanks.

The argument is no longer ‘Why shouldn’t I be allowed to pass my wealth onto my children?’ but ‘Why the hell should my children be gifted wealth they’ve done nothing to earn?’ Little Rupert shouldn’t have his nest feathered simply because Adrian Fortescue-Smythe bent Samantha the secretary over his leather-topped desk in a rash moment of unprotected madness 14 years ago and she ignored his entreaties to have it dealt with.

If you have a serious argument against these two strands of the Humanity Tax I would very much like to hear it. You may believe that people work hard for their money and it shouldn’t simply be given gratis to workshy scroungers who’ve failed to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. I would counter with the obvious truth that boots that normal people can afford don’t have fucking straps and you need to stop being such a greedy, heartless cunt and accept that you have been allowed to make so much money – more than half a billion, remember – thanks to the help or acquiescence of a great many people along the way. Perhaps the woman who cleans your toilet shouldn’t have to live on tins of beans and sausages while she wipes away your Foie Gras-flecked fecal matter from the underside of the seat.

While I understand that these new rules may come as a shock to Petra and Tamara Ecclestone I honestly think they’ll come to adore their newfound status as cross-eyed angels of benevolence. All those people who regularly make that heinous Forbes list of disgracefully rich bastards will realise that money is not meant to be stockpiled and hoarded, but shared to make the world a less angry place. And when someone rich dies, it’ll become something to be celebrated with fireworks that would put New Year in Sydney to shame.

So not everything has to change.