News24

Extra tax collectors for UK super-rich

2011-09-18 22:05

London - Let the audits begin.

As the UK tightens its belt during economic uncertainty, a senior government official said on Sunday he was hiring more than 2 000 extra tax inspectors to make sure that Britain's wealthiest feel the squeeze.

The British Treasury's Chief Secretary, Danny Alexander, told the Sunday Independent newspaper that his priority was "making sure that those with broadest shoulders bear their fair share of the burden".

Alexander said a 100-member "affluence team" would be in place in less than a month to keep an eye on the country's wealthiest taxpayers - the estimated 350 000 people whose personal wealth exceeds £2.5m.

The British government's crackdown on tax evasion has already netted more than £2bn a year, Alexander said, predicting that figure could rise to £7bn a year by 2015.

Britain is going through politically painful series cutbacks aimed at restoring order to its finances after the Labour government, in power for 13 years, saddled the country with billions in debt.

The public sector has been slashed and unemployment has risen - as has anger at the government over austerity measures such as tuition hikes that have tripled the cost of higher education at many British universities.

Alexander's Liberal Democrats party - the junior partner in Britain's coalition government - has a strong left-leaning constituency and many are unhappy over the party's partnership with Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives. 

Ratings plummeted

Approval ratings for the Liberal Democrats have plummeted, and its leaders are under pressure to air their differences with Cameron as they hold their annual party conference this weekend in Birmingham.

So with Tory lawmakers talking about cutting taxes for some of the country's wealthiest, the Liberal Democrats are quickly burnishing their socially conscious credentials.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, another Liberal Democrat, took to Britain's Sky News television to threaten a crackdown on oversize executive pay packages, saying that share prices and basic salaries had stayed flat even as compensation for top business leaders had ballooned.

"Something is not right here," he told the broadcaster. "There are rewards for failure and that is what we have to deal with."

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who also serves as Cameron's deputy prime minister, bashed Tory plans to lower taxes on the highest-paid Britons.

"[It's not] morally or even economically right to unilaterally lower the tax burden on the very, very wealthiest when we have not made as much progress as we wanted to on lowering tax on millions of people on ordinary incomes," he told BBC television.

Comments
  • RVQ - 2011-09-18 22:28

    Story of the world, the middle class follow the rules and help pay the way for the lower class while the upper screws everyone over...

      4skin - 2011-09-18 23:13

      Bishop Tutu told you so.

  • Alfred - 2011-09-19 07:19

    when the rich keep getting richer and the poor and middle class poorer, then the rich are in effect actually stealing from the poor. The rich are helping themselves to an ever larger slice of a limited pie, thus leaving less for everyone else. Cutting social services while reducing taxes for the super rich is the rich who already have more than they could possibly need stealing from the poor who have so little they are battling just to feed and shelter themselves.

      Oryx_ZA - 2011-09-19 13:10

      Look...in all fairness....are you considering why the rich are rich?I agree there are exceptions, but Should a self made millionaire be treated a thief because he/she came up with a great idea, and had the skill to execute on it. have you considered the millions that are donated each year by these "thieves"? Why should they create business (and jobs) when they are told that they don't deserve their hard earned money? I agree, don't give them any tax breaks....but penalize them because they are rich. All that does is distribute wealth...not create it.

  • stofsuier - 2011-09-19 07:29

    I hope they are targetting the queen and her son and her grandsons as well plus kate middleton and her family.

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-19 12:19

      Why? The monarchy costs the UK £40-million a year and in return the UK gets huge income from related tourism + business deals. Unlike the EU membership which costs billions every year and the return is next to zero...

  • Matt :-) - 2011-09-19 09:53

    The rich British people have been leaving these past 2 years as taxation on the rich has shot up. So those who have their money invested in the country are leaving. How great this will be for an already stressed economy!

      Alfred - 2011-09-19 11:14

      So they leave the country because they are not satisfied with the millions and millions they have, they want even more. What they are doing is essentially blackmail. What disgusting pigs. Its that type of rampant greed that is destroying the world. People that greedy deserve the guillotine.

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-19 12:16

      Well they're not happy with 55% taxation. While I'm sure they won't starve as a result, such a heavy progressive taxation model will end up discouraging people from building up a lot and getting rich, because over half of what they earn goes to London. I've heard of mining bosses working in London who for months requested their company to NOT pay them because of the crazy tax. And last I heard, over half of the people affected in this case are preparing to leave the UK. But the UK's budget, tax issues etc run far deeper than just whacking the rich. Like the 2.5 million unemployed and many of those are unemployable but on welfare, for example. If they were made to work (about 1 million who simply never bother to work, many unemployed are genuinely trying to find work but just can't), the tax burden would be slashed by billions every year + they'd actually contribute to the tax coffers!

      Oryx_ZA - 2011-09-19 13:15

      I agree with Mat. These are the people that create jobs....and for every 1 million pound they make....at least half million is lost to tax. So these people are paying about 5 Million rand in taxes. Plus they may employee thousands of people. So compared to my tiny contributions i have made, i think these guys should be honored, not targets. Or are we all short sighted?

      Alfred - 2011-09-19 18:04

      Its a myth that if you tax the rich less they employ more people. If you look at GDP growth of countries, for example in america the greatest growth period is actually correlated with higher tax, like after WW2 the rich were paying over 80% tax and GDP growth was as high as its ever been. Look at countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, all countries with progressive taxation with the rich paying well over 50% tax all have the highest standard of living, all have the lowest unemployment rate. You would have to be blind and willfully ignorant not to realize that it is much easier to make money if you have money, so unregulated capitalism always results in the rich getting richer and the poor poorer until the situation becomes untenable resulting in social upheaval and revolution. The greatest economic growths were achieved when CEO's were only getting less than 50 times as much as their average workers. Today in america they are getting over 1000 times as much as their bottom rung workers. Where is the limit. What about 5000 times or 10 000 times more? Even the super rich could not make their money without a functioning infrastructure. They need roads, they need an educated workforce, they need a degree of social cohesion in order to maintain their factories and corporations. Where would Bill Gates be without the thousands of software engineers supplied by public education. Where would he be if there was no electrical grid, no roads etc.

      Alfred - 2011-09-19 18:04

      The rich gain far more from the system than the poor, so it is only right that they pay more taxes. What really makes me despair is that those with millions insist on even more, I mean how much does one need? There are simple minded airheads that spend hundreds of thousands of Dollars on clothes and millions on jewelry that serves no real purpose other than advertising the fact that one is obscenely rich and millions on silly social rituals like weddings while other cannot afford to feed and cloth their children. Capitalists like to justify their system with claims of meritocracy but in order for true meritocracy the playing field must be level, a level playingfield requires free and equal education. In reality capitalism is inherently plutocratic, with money comes power and the ability to change the rules in ones favour. So called democratic elections today are won by those that spend the most money, so the rich buy elections and politicians and get them to reduce taxes and social spending. They also control the media that pumps out myths like that it is better for the economy and employment if the rich are taxed less.

  • Badballie - 2011-09-19 10:59

    The days of the middle class paying for the upper-class are over, increase tax on the super rich to 50%, each to pay according to what they earn. The entitlement attitude of these people who rely on the yeoman class to pay for them is disgusting to say the least

      daaivark - 2011-09-19 11:10

      I fully agree. Now if only this could be the case here in SA too.

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