Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Taxation and Fairness

Now that the furore about David Cameron's tax arrangements are dying down (primarily because they are perfectly legal and above-board), the usual gang of useless Lefties are attempting to stoke the argument. The most oft-repeated whinge is that 'it doesn't matter whether it was legal or not - it's about fairness!'

Ah, fairness. What is fairness, exactly? What do you define as fair? Oh, that person ought to pay more tax, because that's fair. Really? Fairness is a subjective term. I, for example, do not consider it to be fair that anyone, no matter how much they earn, should have nearly half of their income confiscated by the State. I don't consider it fair that someone who is prepared to save up, put their money at risk and stand any potential losses, should have to hand over nearly a third of their profits to the Government. I don't think it's fair that people who have worked hard all their lives, paid tax on all of their income and capital and determined to leave money to their kids should be taxed again when they die.

Taxation and fairness go together like oil and water. Taxes aren't fucking fair - it's the Government demanding that you pay money over to them, otherwise they'll throw you in prison. What taxes are is necessary - there are some things that realistically need providing by the State. The dispensation of justice, defence of the realm, upholding property rights, that sort of thing. And there's reasonable arguments for State involvement in education and healthcare.

But all of these are effectively facets of the one unifying aspect of Statehood which is the rule of law. It is the law which determines everything, including how much tax a person has to pay, and in what circumstances. Rule of law is really good, because it's certain. It's not always fair, but at least you know where you stand. Fairness is subjective - what I consider fair is different to what other people may consider to be. They're usually wrong if they disagree with me, obviously.

Tax isn't fair, and the reason why is because fairness is a daft, woolly concept which is no basis for policy. We don't have rule of fairness, because that's just a euphemism for making it up as we go along. We have rule of law.

So, actually, the only issue at all was whether it was legal or not. If it was legal, then it's fine. If you think it should be illegal, then that's a different debate entirely.