The lead story in today's Sunday Times, claimed that the Government was considering introducing new taxes on the rich.
This is rather worrying. Increasing rates of tax is something that takes place on a regular basis, something that we are accustomed to, even if new changes are only accepted with a weary resignation. Our affairs are adjusted to the current system, arranged, as rational beings are wont to, in whatever manner that minimses the impact of tax. Changes to the system of tax itself is another matter altogether.
When a completely new type of tax is contemplated it gives one the shudders because one does not know where it will strike. Second, as policy is generally made up ad-hoc, as things go on, there is a good likelihood of some ill-thought, unworkable or harmful tax will be foisted up on us. We have precedents, all bad, of the type of havoc wrought by such taxes in the 1960's. The article claimed that the new tax "would apply to both those who have acquired
wealth through inheritance of family property and cash, and the
new-rich, a growing breed of businesspersons who have acquired wealth in
I suppose one just has to wait and see what turns up, hoping all the while for the best.
Meanwhile, an advertisement in the Sunday Observer announced a new Economic Census of industries and businesses. Businesses were requested to cooperate by providing information on numbers employed, output and assets owned. The website of the Department of Census and Statistics carries some information on the census.
Throughout history rulers have used a census for the purpose of taxation, indeed the very word is derived from the Latin word censere ("to estimate").
The question that came to mind was if this census would form the basis for this and other new taxes being contemplated? The Government is spending is far above its revenues and I think the mandarins in the Treasury have realised that revenue from existing taxes is probably near its limit so new methods to appropriate citizens wealth are required.
Unlike in the 1960's however, it is a lot easier to move money out of the country, so expect another flight of capital.