Jan 072024

The 𝕏-verse has been splattered with Tory messages about this month’s cut in National Insurance; many of which have been amusing tagged with context pointing out that this isn’t a tax cut. Oh and if you see a Tory tax calculator, don’t try it – it’ll dishonestly add you to a Tory mailing list.

  1. National Insurance isn’t quite a tax; it looks like one, smells like one, but isn’t quite. The NI contributions are added to a fund out of which certain benefits are paid – chiefly state pensions. See: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/657ae7f1254aaa000d050d2e/Great_Britain_National_Insurance_Fund_Account_-_2022_to_2023.pdf
  2. There is already a stealth tax rise due in April; a ‘tax cut’ that’ll be obliterated in three months is nothing more than a token gesture. Quite possibly a political stunt aimed at encouraging voters to vote Tory in a May election (if it occurs).

We can expect many, many more Tory lies on social media as the next election approaches; always pay attention to the “added context”.

Sep 222023

Now that Sunak has reversed a policy that didn’t exist in the first place – taxing meat – the question is whether it would be a good idea or not?

I can already hear the howls of protest from meat eaters, but bear with me …

Firstly there are all sorts of good reasons to discourage meat eating – environmental reasons and health reasons chief amongst them.

Secondly we should encourage the occasional consumption of high quality meat rather than constant consumption of low quality meat. This might mollify some of the British farmers – at least those who have very sensibly concentrated on quality rather than quantity.

So what we want is a flat rate per kilogram of meat – perhaps 25p per kilo of mince which would make Quorn mince a relatively cheap option, but not make much difference to quality mince.

Make meat a luxury not a necessity (because it isn’t).

Filthy Roaring Beasts Rushing Along The Scar
Apr 112016

Let’s be honest – we know that many of the rich were stashing piles of loot into offshore banks before the Panama Papers leaked, and we know that many of the rich are stashing piles of loot into offshore banks after the Panama Papers leaked. So what did we really learn?


Of course none of those names from the UK are guilty of anything – they all had some “good” reason to have an offshore bank account or company. Varying from needing to get around currency export regulations (that sounds a bit dodgy to me) to buying houses – because of course it is not possible to buy houses in the UK without using an offshore company.

Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.

Partner of Mossack Fonseca

Hmm … I wonder which statement is more to be trusted – people making public statements that they were not attempting to avoid taxes, or a private statement about their real motives?

There have been suggestions that the ICIJ have been carefully selective about their revelations; specifically to avoid embarrassing “special people”. Well they are right in one sense – the ICIJ is being selective but there is probably no sinister motive involved. They are just digesting 2.6Tbytes of leaked documents which you can be sure takes considerable time to process without undergoing a severe case of digital indigestion.

And of course maximising the impact of the stories to come over possibly months.

As to the source of the data, at this stage it is not clear how the data was leaked. There are several claims :-

  • The company email server was “hacked”. Whilst some of the leaked documents were emails, many were not and whilst some more normal document formats are often found “attached” to emails, database files are very rarely attached to emails. Plus leaking 2.6Tbytes of data from an email server is not entirely stealthy.
  • Various web-based services (WordPress and Drupal have been mentioned) have been claimed to have vulnerabilities which were supposedly used to break in and ex-filtrate the documents. To be honest it seems a bit unlikely that a web-based application would have direct access to all those documents, but perhaps the company didn’t believe in data security (a law firm? with ultra-rich clients including very successful criminals?). Again leaking 2.6Tbytes of data from a web server isn’t exactly the stealthiest of methods.
  • The next method is probably the most boring method. Someone from inside the firm simply drops a backup tape into their jacket on the way out of the building. By far the easiest way of ex-filtrating the data considering the size.

We will probably never know exactly how the data was obtained as the source is doing everything in their power to remain anonymous.


Mar 222012

You know anyone would think the media isn’t capable of adding up to more than 10 without taking their socks off given all the fuss about the so-called “granny tax”. By which they mean the gradual elimination of the increased tax allowance that older people get once the increased personal allowance reaches that level.

Either the complaint is that pensioners are paying the same level of tax as working people, or that the tax allowance for pensioners is not going to go up by the level of inflation for a couple of years. Neither are exactly catastrophic for pensioners – the poorest pensioners are not going to reach that level of income anyway, and those that will be effected will hardly notice the difference.

After all there is no guarantee that the tax personal allowance will increase by the level of inflation every year … neither the normal personal allowance nor the “bonus” allowances that older people get on top of their personal allowance. And why should older people get a special taxation allowance merely for being older ?

Eliminating that special case will make the taxation system just a little bit simpler – something to be encouraged.

I’m more likely than most to throw rocks at the Tories and their policies, but I don’t see this as being worth picking up a rock for. There’s quite a few other things about the recent budget to get excited about.

Like reducing the income tax rate for the wealthy from 50% to 45%; whilst the Tories are quite possibly right about it not being a great revenue raiser, it sends out the message that the Tories are on the side of the wealthy. Whilst they have also done a bit of tinkering with tax avoidance, and added a top rate of stamp duty (on residential property purchases), reducing the income tax rate for the top earners feels wrong.

So why is the media making more fuss about the non-issue that is the “granny tax” ? Someone more suspicious than me might suspect that the media is deliberately drawing attention away from the income tax issue – just how much do these journalists earn anyway ?

Jan 292009

When the economy is well, we constantly hear from businesses about how government should not interfere with business; that anything the private sector does is sacred, and the public sector is at best pathetic. They complain the most about regulation but government support for problematic businesses frequently comes up to. And of course whinge constantly about taxation on business.

Of course any business that needs support from the government to survive is pathetic and probably should fail.

But wait! Come this recession, we are seeing speaking heads from businesses in droves demanding that the government bail their business out. Somehow because there is a recession on, all the traditional rules can be ignored and businesses need support from government.

Sure perhaps we do need to use public money to help out businesses that would otherwise fail. After all reverting to 19th century economics like the Conservatives seems to have done is likely to be far worse. But that does not mean they should get a free ride – we should remind them that businesses usually ask to be left alone, and that goes two ways.

And of course put up taxes on businesses a tad, to pay back the money over the long term. And every time a business complains about high taxes, remind them of these times when government was spending money to help businesses out.