11 April 2011

The mansion tax

One of the principles of a fair and sensible tax system, says Philip Collins [in The Times], should be to avoid taxing effort and work, and to target "idle wealth", notably property, instead. Yet currently 44% of tax receipts comes from income tax, while a "meagre" 5% is from land and buildings. This is why the Lib Dems' proposed mansion tax is such a good idea. Council tax in its current form is crazily outdated: tax bands are still based on 1991 house prices, and all properties valued above £320,000 in that year now fall in the highest tax band. So in some areas, a £10m mansion will pay the same tax as a one-bed council flat. A graded levy, proportional to the value of the property, would redress that absurd imbalance. It would be easier to collect ("unlike income, property is visible and that makes the tax harder to evade"). It would flatten out the volatility of the housing market. It might even help narrow the gaping north-south divide: 60% of the entire property tax bill would be paid by just four London boroughs. A graded tax on property would make far more economic sense than our present system, and would be much "fairer than taxing hard work". (The Week, 9 April 2011)

There is little ‘work’ done within the present artificial economy. Little is done that an individual would be prepared to pay for with his own money; it is extremely difficult to get anyone to do anything useful for one in a useful way, i.e. so that one’s freedom to do other things is increased, and not decreased by supervising unreliable people and dealing with the problems they create.

‘Work’ which is paid for, directly or indirectly, by taxation (freedom of action which has been confiscated from individuals) is a different matter altogether and should be given another name, such as oppression. Teachers, doctors and social workers do not work, they impose on people what other people wish to impose upon them, and should be recognised as oppressors.

In Philip Collins’s preferred world, oppression, i.e. reducing the freedom of others, is to be recognised as virtuous, so that its perpetrators should retain untaxed any rewards in the way of freedom for themselves which they derive from it.

On the other hand, those who have accumulated freedom in the form of capital assets which might facilitate their being able to ‘work’ meaningfully (i.e. independently of the collective), should have their freedom constantly eroded in order to increase the resources available to reward agents of the collective, who devote their lives to the reduction of freedom.

The ‘fair’ economy should be devoted to the continuous reduction of freedom; this is its only raison d’ĂȘtre, and ‘effort’ which is applied to oppression is ‘virtuous’.