Archive for the ‘Tax’ Tag

Above Average Income? Have Some More!

News that £7.3bn has been over paid in tax credits comes as no surprise. A system that takes money from people with one hand then immediately hands it back with the other is totally barking. The system is inefficient and costly to administer, who ever dreamed up the idea should be sacked.

What makes situation even worse and costly is the level at which the credits are made. The minimum wage, which is around £11,950 a year, is presumably set at a level that the government considers sufficient to live in the UK. The national average wage is more than double this figure and therefore well above the level necessary to live in the UK. Working Tax Credits are paid to families with children at levels well above the national average wage. Why?

Why are we giving benefits to families who are earning more than double the minimum wage? Its madness. It instils an attitude that the state will always provide, what has happened to looking after one’s own family? We seem to have come to a situation where family life is being subsidised by all those tax payers who don’t have or want children, or who work hard only to see half of their salary taken in tax and national insurance. Its time the whole system was reformed, make it simple and only give benefits to those who really do need them.

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Drink To Me At A Price

The Chief Medical Officer wants a minimum price for alcohol of 50p per unit. That would mean the cheapest bottle of wine would cost around £4.50 and a can of beer would cost at least £1. Scotland is already making moves to stop supermarkets selling alcohol at low prices, the driver being the high rates of alcohol related problems in many Scottish communities. It looks like the era of cheap booze will soon end, well at least for those who are less discerning about the quality of what they are drinking.

Many people do not think the change will stop binge drinking and its consequence’s on the human body and the cost to the NHS. Those who are dependent on alcohol or see getting drunk most nights of the week a lifestyle choice will carry on regardless. The people it will effect are those on low incomes who enjoy an occasional drink but cannot afford pub prices. The people making these claims are the trade associations who see their sales and profits at risk even though they have contributed to the problem by creating imitation soft drinks of sweetened alcohol aimed at the young and which have helped cause some of the problems.

The drop in the value of the Pound against the Euro reduced the numbers crossing the Channel to stock up on cheap booze to a trickle. Minimum pricing may mean the shopping trip to France regains its popularity as would the smugglers trade. Alcohol is not essential for our survival, it has its pleasures and plays its part in the human experience but it is an addictive drug second only to smoking as a contributor to ill health and death. Although smoking may eventually be relegated to a minority pursuit followed by a few individuals in the confines of their own home, drinking will remain a social pass time and will need some form of controls if the growing problem is going to be curtailed.

Swiss Cheesy Smile

On sooner had Barack Obama and Gordon Brown said they would work to end the shadow banking system then many of the countries that have profited from hiding money from the tax man or providing a home for ill-gotten gains started to change their ways. Their commitment to be more open has less conviction than a cheesy smile. The Swiss said it will abide by international banking rules on data sharing but would only respond to “concrete and justified” requests. Seems like a statement to ensure those with something to hide can be assured of a warm welcome.

Switzerland has always been proud of its neutrality and well organised society. However there is a darker side to the country. Over the years it has provided succour to corrupt politicians and criminal gangs by ensuring their banking services remain anonymous. There have been some moves in the past to cooperate with investigations into illegal deposits but progress has been slow. Its a bit ironic that it has taken a downturn in the world’s economies to get the country to change. Perhaps their banks are suffering as well and the villains are having a hard time.

Money can supposedly buy you anything, in particular it can buy you the ability to avoid paying your way in the world by reducing or avoiding any tax commitments. Its one of the big injustices in Britain that those who pay the largest proportion of their income as tax are those with the least to loose. Many big corporations make large profits but organise their enterprises to ensure the profits only arise in those countries with the most favourable tax regimes. Its time the Government also tackled this equally unjust situation.