Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why not make paying tax something to be proud of and perhaps even to boast about?

There’s a healthy little debate in the comments section of my earlier post about tax. It’s a very emotive issue. Many people are unable to see the benefits they get from paying tax because so many of the services it provides are now taken completely for granted.

Things like food not being poisonous, the bins being emptied, water being drinkable, the streets being largely free of outlaws, sickness benefits, not being invaded, the fire engine turning up or the doctor being just around the corner are now seen as birthrights rather than the amazing pieces of good fortune that they really are.

It’s extraordinary that in countries with insurance based health services those that can afford them seem fairly happy (relative to Britains paying NI and tax) to pay the premiums even though they are probably significantly higher than the amount they’d have to pay for healthcare in the UK. Perhaps it’s because they get something tangible; their very own policy.

The Treasury should think of ways of making paying tax a rewarding experience, perhaps they could give a ‘free’ go on the lottery for every hundred pounds paid. Wouldn’t it be peculiar to live in a world in which people boasted in bar rooms about how much tax they’d paid rather than how much they’d avoided?


At 14:45, Blogger cassilis said...

An interesting idea Hughes and contrary to the impression that might be gleaned from my previous posts (are you sitting down!) one I'm broadly in favour of..

I've long argued that just as Labour learned the electoral lessons from their previous attachement to punitive or excessive taxation, us Conservatives need to learn a similar lesson around our fixation on tax as a % of GDP etc. Most apolitical people would probably describe tax as 'about right' at the moment so any high profile campaign that tries to exploit unease over tax levels will fall on deaf ears.

Moving to a point where people take pride in the tax they pay is a tricky journey. The key here is legitimacy - people need to feel that their money is being spent on something they approve of and, if they themselves aren't direct recipients, that those who are are deserving. As you say the majority of public money is well spent and people would do well to recognise this more. It's a common phrase in US politics to hear candidates refer to 'your tax dollars' and we don't really have that sort of culture here (a good thing you'd no doubt say).

At 14:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a remarably stupid post, even by your standards.

At 17:49, Blogger Hughes Views said...

What a wonderful day! I agree with comments that Skipper (to my left) and cassilis (to my right) have left on my blog. Gosh it's nice in the centre!

And I mended John's e-mail on his laptop after the "computer expert" had given up. If only it hadn't rained during my half hour journey home from work (on foot) what a perfect day it would have been...


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