The Tax Payer Myth

Written just before Christmas

One common element in all the anti-welfare propaganda being spread about is how “tax payers” are subsidising the feckless. The term “tax payer” is clearly being used in the narrowest possible way, to include only income tax. There are numerous other taxes, and Income Tax is less than half of the government’s overall tax take. (Source http://www.taxresearch.org.uk).

As I write, I have a Christmas job at Royal Mail. As it only pays minimum wage for the 20 weekly hours, I pay no income tax on it. However, I’m still a tax payer. Every time I put petrol in my car, every time it’s serviced, every time I renew the tax disc, I pay tax. I pay all my Council Tax. Every time I turn the heating on or want hot water, I pay tax. On those occasions when I drink alcohol, I pay tax. And I will continue to pay these taxes after my job ends and I’m unemployed again.

Because all these taxes are regressive (i.e. not based on the payer’s income), they hit those on low incomes much harder, so a much higher proportion of your overall spend goes on them. This affects not just welfare claimants, but the many thousands of people trapped in poorly paid jobs. I’m not often given to Biblical quotations, but this seems apposite, the story of the Poor Widow (Mark 12: 43-44)

This poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.

It would be nice if those that put in out of their surplus actually did so, rather than evading or at best avoiding tax. Yet they get away with it, and all the ordure is dumped on the poor.

They are tax payers too.

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