Latest Cases - June 2016

Medieval serfs had it easier....

Thursday, 9th June 2016

Good afternoon, friends,

In this issue of Punters’ Verdict….

  • Something happened last Friday….
  • It deserves to be celebrated….
  • I’m feeling unappreciated….
  • It is getting harder….
  • It will get harder still….

Something happened last Friday….

Not many people noticed. Not many people even knew about it.

The newspapers and the media kept it low key. So too did the great and the good down at Westminster.

It was like they were intentionally keeping it all on the down low.

Like they didn’t want to draw general attention to something.

It was as though they were hoping this whole thing would pass by like some drunken reveler in the night missing his trousers – without creating some big hullabaloo.

If that was indeed the plan, then it worked. It worked well.

Nobody I know has any idea that Friday 3rd June was Tax Freedom Day in Great Britain – the day on which the individual has earned enough money to pay off all the tax he has to pay into the Treasury for the year….

It deserves to be celebrated….

Maybe last Friday night we should have all gone out on the razz and knocked back more than our fair share of Pernod and Tizers, before staggering home in the early hours of Saturday morning minus our own trousers?

At the very least you’d expect such a momentous day to be recognized? To be acknowledged? To be mentioned in passing by someone in authority?

But no. Not a mention. Not a single word.

George Osborne could have scored himself some much-needed brownie points had he trotted out into Downing Street and made a statement to the press congratulating the British taxpayer on meeting the annual requirement imposed on him by the Treasury via HM Revenue & Customs….

As common garden taxpayers we don’t expect thanks. We don’t expect the Chancellor of the Exchequer to start genuflecting (though lessons in humility would do the current incumbent of that office no harm whatsoever). But little courtesies matter. The thought counts.

If the powers that be fail to take golden opportunities to acknowledge the real and genuine contribution made by taxpayers, it can start to feel to the individual taxpayer like it’s really all about the filthy lucre and that his humble efforts aren’t really appreciated….

I’m feeling unappreciated….

I’m not the kind of man to overlook a slight or to pass-up the opportunity to bear a grudge. If there’s an axe to hand then I want to be the one to grind it….

To George Osborne I say this: Thanks for nothing, George. Last Friday was your opportunity to thank me for my 2016 contribution to the national coffers. You let the occasion pass by unacknowledged – which is most disappointing. You were probably busy skiing at some expensive Swiss resort – but that is no consolation to me….

To be fair I can see why Osborne, and all the other pointy-heads with their hands on the public purse-strings, maintained a staunch and tight-lipped silence on the issue.

The bottom line is that they know the general public would not take kindly to learning that the first 154 days of the year were spent working for the tax take. Or that it is only post June 3rd that they start to keep hold of the fruits of their own labors.

The powers-that-be would prefer the working stiff to remain in ignorance about that fact. And the fact is that most of them are in ignorance about it.

I bring you news of the situation myself this morning, because I know you can handle the truth. I know you have the fiber to look at things the way they really are. I know you’re not going to take to the streets….

It is getting harder….

But at the same time I want to draw your attention to the fact that things are not getting better for the British taxpayer. They are getting worse.

More accurately, it took you longer this year to pay off the tax contribution demanded by government than it did last year. Four days longer….

In 2015 we Britons were free and clear of our tax liability for the year by 31st May.

This year we have had to collectively put our backs into another 80% of a 5-day working week in order to get the same bill paid.

And this ‘creep’ effect is no short-term anomaly. It is no bad flash in the pan. It is a sustained trend.

Back in 2010 Tax Freedom Day in Britain fell on 13th May. So in the last 6 years, Tax Freedom day has moved 21 days further up the calendar. Britons like me and you are working that much longer and harder to satisfy the demands of government.

This year is the first year in 15 years that Tax Freedom Day has crept into June. That can’t be seen as anything but a move in the wrong direction for the taxpayer.

Eamonn Butler, Director at the Adam Smith Institute, put it better than I could when he said last week: 'We work longer for the Government than medieval serfs had to work for their Lords.'

And still the government continues to borrow money. It takes more than 40% of the country’s earnings – and then borrows more still.

It will get harder still….

Year on year Tax Freedom Day has gotten later and later. And not just in Britain.

In America, in Canada, in Australia and in Europe, the tax burden imposed by the state on the individual has grown steadily in terms of the time it takes to pay the demand down.

Given the state of the nation’s finances, I find it difficult to project anything other than later Tax Freedom Days in the years ahead.

As the tax take increases – as it surely must – it will saddle the average individual (of which I consider myself one) with even more onerous burdens that will take longer and longer to pay.

The individual has two options. Pay up or else. It is a threat-based demand with the full force of the law waiting in the wings to make an example of anyone dragging his heels or digging them in.

It is also a situation in which the individual must accept that he has no control whatsoever over what the government asks for or what the government does with it when it is handed over. His consent is not required. His concerns are irrelevant. His unquestioning compliance is all that matters.  

Think about it too deeply and you can start to feel a bit like a domesticated animal – there just to be milked by the farmer who owns you….

But that’s a discussion for another time.

For now, pat yourself on the back. You got that tax bill paid down for another year. Put your feet up for a bit. Recharge the batteries. Conserve energy. Once January 1st 2017 comes round, you’re going to need all the energy you’ve got to pay down next year’s bill….

I’ll be back with the Verdict next week.

The Judge

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