Taxing Thoughts

I’m not an economist. Anyone that’s ever seen my bank balance will know that. I have always been a bigger fan of spending money rather than saving and investing it, and nor have I ever been that wise in what to spend it on either. Hence why my flat is filled with graphic novels and music yet my fridge often looks like culinary recreation of Custer’s Last Stand. But I’ve got better with dosh as I’ve got older and that’s partly because with self employment comes the responsibility of tax and the forethought to have money put away to be able to pay that tax. Because I think it’s important to do so. Sure I claim many things as expenses (one of the benefits of doing a career where almost anything in life could be research for material) but I don’t go over the top with it, and also list every cash in hand payment, making sure I do pay what I owe. I’m not pretending this makes me and exemplary human being or anything, it’s just what I believe I should do.

I watched a lot of this year’s budget and, as per usual, there was quite a bit I didn’t agree with. There’s a whole other blog to be had (and to be fair, many have written pieces on it already) about the sheer gall of the Conservatives to assume ‘hardworking people’ will happily ignore looming wage cuts, job losses and cost of living rises when they can play bingo with a beer in their hand that cost them 1p less than last year. It strikes me as not dissimilar to when you see pictures of how Victorians thought exotic animals looked or the three blind men and the elephant. These incredible assumptions based on a sheer ignorance of society and how it actually works. Though I suppose it’s not as though we should be remotely surprised by this. But aside from this, and the fact that much of the budget appeared to be aimed at people who already have, rather than need, the one bit that baffled me again was the raising of the personal tax allowance.

I know, I know. Some of you are already wondering why I should be sad about gaining more money in the next tax year, and yes I will directly gain from it, so I should be happy. But here’s the rub for me: If people are paying less tax, which is now happening at the top and the bottom of the money chain, then less money is going into the public coffers which means less money is spent on infrastructure to get people jobs where they could earn more and get more money to pay more tax. By allowing people a greater personal allowance, surely it is just stifling employers needs to pay their workers more? More people paying tax would mean the deficit gets paid off quicker and austerity could be pulled back (even though we have been told from the platform of a gold throne that it won’t be anyway much to the chagrin of everyone but The City). Instead we’ll have further funding issues because people aren’t providing back into society and thus it’ll be even easier for the government to promote the selling off of services to private companies who’ll then charge us our personal tax allowance because we’ve had to see a doctor for a common cold.

But no one likes paying tax, right? Why would I be sad about paying less tax when it is the one thing that no one likes? Gary Barlow doesn’t like it, Jimmy Carr didn’t like it. Amazon, Google and Starbucks hate it so why oh why would I want to pay tax. I remember reading the analogy that tax pays, for example, for road surfacing. So if the road ends up with tons of potholes after particularly bad weather or an accident or mutant moles, then tax payments will fund the local council (however slowly they do it) to organise the work forces to fill those pot holes in/kill the mutant moles using acid guns. If we didn’t pay tax then suddenly dealing with those pot holes becomes the responsibility of everyone on the road. Who decides exactly how much everyone pays towards it? Who’s the person that will fight the mutant moles? Who’s the neighbour that will organise the work force and be around the oversee it? Suddenly there’s a whole heap of work that will probably in the end cost you several times more money, time and effort than it would have done to just have your taxes taken out of your wage slip at the end of the month. Yes, I did add mutant moles to the analogy. It’s hard not to. ‘Oh but my local council are crap with money anyway and they wouldn’t get it done right’. Yes yes, ok. But bare in mind that this may well be to do with all the cuts they’ve had to endure which again, would, you’d hope, be curbed by an increase in tax funding. Saying that, I did also work for a London council department once and it could just be that it’s being dealt with by a total dickhead who’s more interested in getting their comedy career going than your mutant mole infestation.

So the further personal tax allowance to me just seems like an easy election policy. Hooray! Osborne is making us pay less tax, we’ll vote his slimy reptile face of doom back in so he doesn’t have to go back to folding towels like the economist he is. Then a few years along when the councils don’t have any money to fix roads, suddenly we’ll all be overrun by mutant moles and have to spend the next 100 years living underground and worshipping our poorly sighted, worm eating overlords. Ok, that’s probably slightly too far, but you can see what I mean. So it just strikes me as odd that very few people seem to think it’s at all important to help support the society we live in. If you earn more money and you can spend more money on tax without it affecting your living then you should. That will help those that can’t get the infrastructure and support to be able to earn more money and therefore support the people below them until at some point we are all happy and can buy a lot of graphic novels. But of course that’d mean actually wanting to help each other which is, of course, a stupid lefty idea. I sometimes think people say ‘this country’s gone to the dogs’ because dogs are pack animals that look after each other and that idea terrifies many. Let’s just keep all our own cash, and let those who can’t have bingo and beer. Like I said, I’m not an economist. I’ll just keep sharpening my mole killing stick incase.

– Edit Note: A reader on Facebook has said that it seems odd that I want those who earn the least in society to pay more. No, that’s not it. I want the highest earners to pay more tax than they do and I definitely want a clampdown on tax avoidance but I would love to live in a country (or indeed world) where lowest earners are on a living wage and therefore taxed at a low rate. I feel as though raising personal allowance is a clever way of avoiding making minimum wage the living wage or actually giving people opportunities to get decent jobs. I hope that’s clearer.