Did you see the tax dodger ads in the papers this week? On the day that VAT went up, campaign group 38 Degrees placed ads in several major newspapers. The ads showed chancellor George Osborne as the ‘artful dodger’ out of Oliver Twist, and calls for a focus on tax evasion instead of VAT.
Despite the government’s protestations to the contrary, VAT is a regressive tax. The richest pay more in VAT as an absolute sum, but they also save or invest much more of their income. Those on lower incomes spend almost everything they earn, and thus end up paying substantially more as a percentage.
On the other hand, tax evasion is a rich man’s hobby. They can afford the specialist accountants and lawyers who know the law and how to circumvent it, what to call various streams of income and where to register companies and assets to avoid paying tax. It’s all legal of course, but it’s socially destructive and unfair.
Closing tax loopholes would reduce the deficit and create the budgetary breathing space to lift taxes from the disadvantaged. It’s not even a matter of placing the burden on those most able to pay, since it’s only reclaiming tax that is already owed. There is no reason not to do it, except that there are too many rich people in government.
To draw attention to this, 38 Degrees ran the artful dodger ads in a series of national papers, although some of them refused to place them and others dropped them without warning. The ads were entirely funded by donations from the public, and since some of the ads didn’t run, there’s a little money left over. With a new round of donations, 38 Degrees will place the ad on posters at bus-stops and on billboards instead. If you’d like to donate to that noble cause, click here.
(Why 38 Degrees, you may ask – it’s the angle at which an avalanche starts.)