Tax unfairness? February 17, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
The SBP’s Brian Keegan had ‘a tax essay’ in last weekend’s edition of that paper. And it was about ‘tax unfairness’. Some good points in there, not least that Eoghan Murphy’s idea of a ‘tax report’ which would show where an individual taxpayer’s money went in terms of state expenditures would actually undermine the system (as well as which it makes no sense – individual taxpayers monies don’t go in different directions to one another – all one has to look at is the overall expenditure stats to get a sense of things).
Keegan argues that there’s not much focus on the ethics of tax payments in academic literature. It’s not an area I’m familiar with so I’m open to correction on that. But he continues:
It seems to me that Oxford law professor Tony Honoré makes a better fist of the issue than most… [he argues] that when a person lives and functions within a particular country they have a moral or ethical obligation towards meeting the collective ends of their community. In modern economies that will involved a monetary payment, namely the payment of taxes.
And he notes that €8 out of every €10 is collected through taxes that cannot be evaded, PAYE, VAT etc. He takes tax evasion to task, as being unethical, tax avoidance not so much. Which leads him into an interesting if somewhat expedient argument that because there is no ‘single international authority to collect taxes from business operating across borders’ therefore arguments or ‘allegations’ of tax unfairness and ‘the old chestnut of labelling a country as a ‘tax haven ‘ therefore miss the point. And these are built from ‘mismatches’ between different states – as if they were geological formations unyielding to any exterior pressure but wind and rain. Not so sure about that, now.
Still, there’s one throwaway line that really struck me.
Once we start considering the issues beyond tax compliance, we have to then evaluate our concept of fairness in terms of our own position as taxpayers.
What are we missing out on? As wage earners, we miss out on the flexibility afforded to business. And as higher earners, we miss out on the lower rates afforded to those on lower incomes.
A lot of assumptions in there, but what an interesting way to put it… ‘miss out on’?