A couple of things happened this week to make me think about taxation. It could have been serendipity. The first was a visit to my accountant and the second was that I finished reading the book ‘Utopia for Realists’ by Rutger Bregman.
I was at my accountant (Tynerede in Bellingham) to sign off on my second year of trading. The last twelve months have been good for the business and I am going to pay a chunk of tax. Now, it is fairly normal to talk about tax with your accountant, even if it is just to make sure you are paying the right amount and on time. We talked about a couple of things, mostly to do with what the business can claim in expenses and what it couldn’t and in these straightened times we eventually got round to politics. My accountant felt that we may be moving to a low tax economy.
What’s wrong with that? But then I remembered the book and how it talks of global economic inequality. In my mind and supported by overwhelming evidence, inequality is the driver of most of society’s ails. We used to live in times where society accepted that slaves were needed to do the work. Today we accept that people need to work if society is to function properly and that our welfare system needs to be based on encouraging people to get a job.
Bregman argues that there is enough money in the world to be able to spread it out more evenly and provide everyone with a basic level of income irrespective of their employment situation. His arguments are very convincing and I would urge you to read the book. The mechanism for redistribution of wealth is through taxation.
I want to live in a world that is fairer, where equality is greater though I accept that absolute equality is not achievable and is probably not desirable. My belief is that, to achieve this, economic good fortune and luck needs to be redistributed more fairly. This would help reduce most of society’s ails and the mechanism would be through taxation.
I am, therefore, happy to pay more tax, as long as it is in a fair and progressive system, one that addresses social inequality. In the end by paying more tax, society will cost less and we will all be able to pay less. Wouldn’t we all want this?
P.s. You might also want to read ‘The Spirit Level’ by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson.