Robin Hood, Or What Is “Fair”?

So we had a new Budget with the Chancellor, Gideon, heralding things that won’t happen for another year in the hope that we will assume he means April 2012 when he refers to “next April” when in fact it’s April 2013.

But apart from that, the Government continue to bang on about everyone paying their fair share in taxes, unless you’re Simon Hughes MP, in which case it’s a “fare share“…

This latest statement by Simon Hughes MP is headlined “Budget makes sure the richest pay their fare share – Simon Hughes MP” but then goes on to fanfare that:

“…hundreds of thousands of South Londoners on low and middle incomes given a tax cut, paid for by raising the burden of tax on the wealthy.”

“Liberal Democrats have made sure that this government has done what Labour never did – make sure the richest pay their fair share … despite a cut in the top income tax rate to 45p next year the richest will pay five times the amount in taxes they do today.”

Oh I see! So that’s fair is it?

And where does this magical “five times the amount” come from? I haven’t seen that calculation shown anywhere, or is it just another case of “lies, damned lies and statistics”?

What’s wrong with a proportional tax system whereby everyone pays the same tax in percentage terms? Does a “rich” person use more of what the Government provides from taxes by way of health and welfare than a lower paid person? I’d wager not; probably the opposite with private healthcare being a likely perk. Education? Surely the “rich” are more likely to pay for Quentin and Letitia to go be educated privately too. Local services are paid through Council Tax which increases with property size so the better off are already paying more for local services that way.

If you are going to look at taxation based upon affordability, why not own up and call it that?

For the record, I’m not rich by any means and by a quirk of the tax system which appears bewilderingly complex and confusing, HMRC has already decided that I somehow paid less tax through PAYE then I should have last year – HMRC helpfully provided my tax code which calculated the “incorrect” deductions – and taking that and the tax rules into account, for 2012/2013 I will have a negative code, i.e. I will pay tax on more than I actually earn.

Which is “fair”, if you happen to be a Liberal Democrat politician, obviously. Or a Conservative. Tricky to tell them apart…