I have some taxing issues for the chancellor to ponder
It's a bit late for lobbying – but even if it wasn't, there's about as much chance of the chancellor listening to me as there is of anyone of sound mind voting Liberal Democrat ever again. Loosely translated, that's as likely as successfully juggling soot on a windy day.
Nevertheless, on the off-chance that at some point between now and 12.30 the Honourable Master Osborne picks up his EDP and, in an act of boyish Bullingdon bravado, looks to indulge in an unlikely spot of devilment, here is my budget manifesto for him.
Budgets – and I've reported on a fair few of them – are mostly about how much tax those of us who aren't nondoms (like condoms but offering protection against the escape of their wealth into the country) will have to pay.
As Daniel Defoe and Benjamin Franklin said, there's nothing so certain as death and taxes. Unless, of course, a decent tax avoidance plan means you can spirit your ill-gotten gains to the missus living in Monaco.
So first off George, can you find a way to make people like your boss's erstwhile business advisor Philip Green cough up their fair share. If that means we have to get by without his guidance on how to make our enterprises as successful as Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, and BHS, I, for one, don't care.
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There's a rumour that you are going to ease the burden for your upmarket mates by axing the 50p in the pound top rate of tax on the premise that it was only introduced as a temporary measure. Don't. Anyone earning more than 150 grand a year can afford to pay.
People like Emma Harrison, the Conservative 'welfare to work' adviser who, a Channel 4 report revealed this week, avoided paying �800,000 in income tax through some nifty tax dodging shenanigans around the timing of a �7m dividend payment from her company A4E (currently facing investigations into how it spent public money).
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- 2 Travellers camped at garden centre car park
- 3 Ex-head charged with sex attacks on boys at Norfolk school
- 4 'Someone will get hurt' - Frustration over pothole near Norwich surgery
- 5 Tattoo studio owner fined after refusing to close in lockdown
- 6 Photo shows car inches from knocking cyclist off road
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- 8 Elton John to kick off UK leg of farewell tour at Carrow Road
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- 10 Hotel's new pizza restaurant enjoys 'fantastic' first month
While you're at it, throw in that tycoon tax too. The worst that can happen is that the over-padded will stop voting Tory or leave the country, both of which seem like good ideas to me. Please don't stand there at the despatch box and tell us that you can't penalise those who have toiled so diligently for their inflated salaries and bonuses. When it comes down to it, they've worked no harder than a hospital cleaner (for whom, incidentally, you could try raising the tax-free threshold to �10,000).
Same with Vince's suggestion for a mansion tax. If a house is worth over �2m the people who own it can afford to be all in it together with the rest of us. I hear the bleating about 'me poor old mum and dad whose gaff is worth a few mil but it's not their fault property prices in London boomed'. About how they're property-rich but cash-poor. It strikes me that the answer would be to sell up, go live somewhere smaller and have some nice holidays. Might dent the kids' inheritance but, they probably don't deserve it.
Then there are those senior public servants who are paid by the taxpayer and call themselves consultants. By setting up a company into which they arrange to have their salary – which they call a fee – paid, they finish up shelling out only for corporation tax at 20pc instead of income tax like the rest of us. If memory serves, this was a scam that originated years ago in the building industry because it suited everyone, employees and employers, for workers to be self-employed rather than on the books. The tax authorities put the kibosh on it by insisting that such tax breaks would only be available to proper companies; or at least proper to the extent of insisting that even a one-man micro business has more than one regular paymaster.
So how is it that 100 permanent posts at local councils are being paid through limited liability companies via which they are able to pay themselves lowly taxed dividends rather than normally taxed wages? Ed Lester, head of the Student Loans Company is one who came to an arrangement agreed with tax chiefs to be paid through a private company. Obviously he was setting an example for post graduate entrepreneurs of the future.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee is evidently looking into it, so come on Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, make a name for yourself by putting the hurry-up on things. While you're closing loopholes, why not stop private schools (by which I mean public schools) pretending to be charities for the sake of avoiding taxes? They will probably have to increase their fees and that will mean some of those desirous of buying their kids a leg up the ladder having to seek out an appropriately selective free school or, heaven forfend, subject their offspring to the state system.
Finally, how about hiking the road tax for all 4x4s that aren't owned by farmers and run exclusively on red diesel in an agricultural environment? After all, they won't be needed to impress the Joneses at the posh school gates any more.
As for extra duty on fags, don't bother; you'll only encourage more contraband tobacco. I would rather you left my whisky alone too.