Monday, 31 January 2011

Taxation a dirty word

And here’s a dirty word for you ‘Tax’. Oh yes truth be told, and I think we can all agree, this is a word that most would rather not hear, and of course we must hear and discover and see and feel its pull every single day, whether it’s the tax we pay on our wage slavery, or the tax we pay on the consumer goods we acquire by means of a financial transaction, including the food we need. Now tax comes in many shapes and forms I am sure you know that from experience, and for a great many of us who sell our labour in exchange for a wage or a salary there simply is no escape, unless you are working in the black economy for some doggy employer who is paying cash in hand for your services, like the Indian guy working in my local shop who told me one day that his employer pays him £3 an hour for working a 40 hour week and over serving customers in a very busy, lucrative (because it sells alcohol) outlet.

Today the press are spreading and propagating the possibility that Chancellor George Osborne has said he is considering cancelling the fuel duty increase due to take effect in April. There is said to be growing pressure to have a rethink on an extra 1p-a-litre rise at a time when petrol prices have soared after oil price and VAT increases, and of course when you think about it this would be a safe move for the government which is now accumulating the wrath and anger of millions who are being hit really hard by their policies thus far, what with inflation and a noticeable increase in the general cost of living; an increase in fuel duty would be at this time like pouring petrol onto a fire that and which is already burning profusely. The coalition against the majority has bigger fish to fry and don’t want to be blown off course from its agenda and series of planned events, actions and maturation's.

So as we consider tax we are reminded that January 31 (today) is the deadline for personal tax returns to Revenue & Customs, a time to pay up.

Taxation and tax avoidance have become major issues recently, particularly for large well-known companies and individuals, thanks in part to UK Uncut, students and the new movement. In the last few months, hostility towards big business in the wake of the credit crunch and the bailing out of banks, and fear about the impact of austerity cuts have created a toxic cocktail of growing descent and a manifestation of protestation.

Just consider Vodafone, reeling from allegations, first advanced in and by Private Eye, that Revenue & Customs let them off from paying their £6 billion tax bill, or Sir Philip Green’s Topshop Empire which pays his wife dividends in Monaco thereby avoiding taxation, and then there are the not so good banks paying out mega-bonuses while diverting revenues to overseas tax havens. What about the big retail names such as US food giant Kraft, which recently moved some operations to low-tax capitalist wonderland Switzerland; or and this really is a good one Boots the Chemist, whose private-equity owners also moved its tax HQ to Switzerland. Now Boots who helped destroy the early co-operative retail movement started by workers is now in the news and in the frame for taking over parts of the NHS under plans being drown up by the government. The nationwide high street chemist is currently engaged in discussions with the NHS to establish which, if any, services could be provided in stores, according to the Daily Mail. It is alleged that one mooted area for high street outsourcing is chemotherapy and cancer treatment. Is that son of a coal miner Aneurin "Nye" Bevan turning in his grave?”

The collective principle asserts that... no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.
—Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear, p100

A small but worthwhile deviation there, but coming back to taxation, and I have to say that I am no expert, but I do remember the only time in my life that I enjoyed my taxation was when the Labour Government of Harold Wilson handed out tax rebates to workers in the 1970s and I was working at the time on Scunthorpe Steel Works, we would collect our wages in those days from pay stations that were dotted around the works, I got mine and was amused to find I had over £500 in the pay packet which was a lot of money in those day’s and especially for a young lad. Well those were happier days in comparison to today and many young people will be lucky to get a job let alone get a large tax rebate.

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