I can’t quite believe what I’ve just read. Robin Hood just got shot with his own arrow and no-one even noticed. He’s laying there now, bleeding on the floor, but we’re all going to step over him on the way to work. The Sheriff of Osborne-ham finally cooked up a plan so cunning there’ll be no more robbing from the rich to give to the poor Ever.
You’ll probably hear a lot today about the banker’s levy being made permanent. Osborne has announced (ahead of the budget) that an extra 800 million will be taken from the banks, making a total of £2.5 billion over the year. The bank levy will stay in place, making it a permanent feature.
Not a Robin Hood tax, not nearly enough, but a step in the right direction eh? Well, erm…no. George Monbiot in the Guardian outlines a change to corporation tax that he calls the “heist of the century” a “kind of corporate coup d’etat” and “the biggest and crudest corporate tax cut in living memory”. What’s more, he points out that yet again, no-one knew about it, it wasn’t in any manifesto and it’s so complicated, that most people would never understand it anyway without expert guidance.
Effectively, £6 billion from Vodafone or a few quid from Wayne Rooney has just turned into small-fry. In fact fry so tiddly, it’s barely visible to the naked eye. This move will save big business endless, eye-watering, startling billions.
“At the moment tax law ensures that companies based here, with branches in other countries, don’t get taxed twice on the same money. They have to pay only the difference between our rate and that of the other country. If, for example, Dirty Oil plc pays 10% corporation tax on its profits in Oblivia, then shifts the money over here, it should pay a further 18% in the UK, to match our rate of 28%. But under the new proposals, companies will pay nothing at all in this country on money made by their foreign branches.”
“Foreign means anywhere. If these proposals go ahead, the UK will be only the second country in the world to allow money that has passed through tax havens to remain untaxed when it gets here. The other is Switzerland. The exemption applies solely to “large and medium companies”: it is not available for smaller firms. The government says it expects “large financial services companies to make the greatest use of the exemption regime”. The main beneficiaries, in other words, will be the banks.”
Monbiot goes on to ask: “So how did this happen? You don’t have to look far to find out. Almost all the members of the seven committees the government set up “to provide strategic oversight of the development of corporate tax policy” are corporate executives. Among them are representatives of Vodafone, Tesco, BP, British American Tobacco and several of the major banks: HSBC, Santander, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, Schroders, RBS and Barclays.” Well, surprise surprise.
It’s not good enough to say “Oh well, it’s the Tories, you expect this kind of thing from them”. On the same day that even Warren Buffet is saying that we need to raise inheritance tax to tackle a growing “entrenched” plutocracy, Little-Lord-Osborne has decided that we need to do quite the opposite.
In case you’d forgotten, David Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend that he: “would love to see tax reductions, but when you’re borrowing 11% of your GDP, it’s not possible to make significant net tax cuts. It just isn’t.”
He really is breathtakingly dishonest isn’t he? As Monbiot concludes, this government has decided on a course of PR that, as with so many of their other policies, treats us like complete and utter fools.
STOP THEM before they make the rich staggeringly richer on the quiet, dismantle and privatise the NHS, bring back a two tier education system under the guise of “free schools” and cut budgets faster and deeper than has ever been attempted before.
Demonstrate, Protest, Occupy – March 26th.