Monday, May 25, 2009

Living above the law

The MPs' expenses scandal rumbles on: just as you think that there is no more to be revealed, yet more filthy troughing is exposed.

The thing that really pisses off your humble Devil, however, is the systematic hypocrisies indulged in by our disgusting rulers—the exemption from tax on benefits in kind, for instance.

Thus, it is the news that MPs have been putting accountants on expenses that really fucks me off this morning.
The Chancellor was among nine members of the Cabinet who used publicly funded expenses to pay for an accountant to complete their personal tax returns, The Telegraph can disclose.

Alistair Darling, along with others including Hazel Blears, Geoff Hoon and Jacqui Smith, have all claimed for the costs of accountancy advice using expenses intended to fund their parliamentary and constituency offices.

A tax expert described the claims as “scandalous”, especially as the expenses are tax-free.

Under HM Revenue and Customs rules, most people are not allowed to claim the cost of employing an accountant to fill in a self-assessment tax form as a legitimate business expense.

This is pretty fucking awful: once again, MPs are exempting themselves from the laws that govern us. Or, as the Daily Mash puts it...
Chancellor Alistair Darling, Borrower Hazel Blears, pornography enthusiast Jacqui Smith and six other non-entities insisted they had acted within the rules that allow them to dodge the tax system they gleefully impose on you under threat of imprisonment.

But it is related aspect that really grips my shit...

Your humble Devil has, for some years, campaigned for simpler taxation, for a couple of reasons.
  • The first reason is that it would make it considerably easier for people to do their own tax returns, making it far cheaper for freelancers and businesses to operate.

  • The second is that people would be able to have far greater visibility of the tax burden that they carry; this would, I would hope, help people to understand just what the costs of our state are.

  • The third reason is that if you want to stop people evading tax, then you need a simpler system. The more complicated you make the system, the more loop-holes will be found.

    I like to think of it as knitting a blanket, with the wool being the laws, and the gaps inbetween the stitches being the massive fucking loopholes. The more stitches there are, the more loopholes you introduce.

Ultimately, the tax system has become rather like the MP expenses system: it is constructed as it is simply to deceive the people of this country. As Timmy points out, riffing off Nadine Dorries's ridiculous "McCarthy" assertions, the ACA was put in to give MPs a hidden salary rise.
Yes, the ACA has grown because no one was willing for MPs to have the pay rises the salary review boards suggested over the years. It was felt that MPs should not get whacking great pay rises, for the public would not wear it. Thus have expenses instead which the public won’t know about and thus won’t complain about.

She’s absolutely correct, this is indeed what has been going on.

However, the truth ain’t all that great an excuse.

For the logic of it is is that, umm "You wouldn’t give us more money so we took it without you knowing".

In other words the Nadine Dorries defence is "It’s OK because we were lying to you".

The tax system's complexity has a similar motivation at the heart of it—to attempt to conceal from the people of Britain the sheer scale of the tax that they pay.

However, the system has also been designed to allow the richest in society to take advantage of loopholes and pay less tax than they might—in this way, Labour convinced the rich to continue to donate to the party.

So, NuLabour have happily continued previous governments' policy of ensuring that the heaviest tax burden falls on the poor, rather than the rich. Because the poor sure as hell can't afford to pay millions of pounds towards Labour's lying billboard adverts.

If anyone thinks that Labour Party is a friend of the poor, then they are a fucking idiot.


john in cheshire said...

I would be satisfied if :
1. MPs were not allowed to claim any expenses
2. All MPs were subjected to at least a 10% cut in salary
3. The number of MPs was reduced to at most 500 and preferably closer to 400
4. MPs were paid by their local constituency, so there was local scrutiny of what they are doing with our cash.
Maybe then we can start to think about how they feel. But my preference is that we keep them frightened and depressed and only bring them out when we need something from them. Otherwise, they should be locked away like a rabid dog; perhaps poking them with a stick from time to time, just for amusement.

Tenure said...

This talk of tax reminds me of that quote from Atlas Shrugged:

"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris . "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then
you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makesthem. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."