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Why would we want to tax consumers more and landlords less?

Summary:
The argument in favour of us having all those clever and informed people governing us, in such detail, is that they’re all clever and informed people governing us. Therefore they can correct our misbehaviours and solve our problems, in detail.This all rather fails when those doing the governing are neither clever nor informed: Rishi Sunak is stepping up plans for an online sales tax to level the playing field between tech behemoths and high street retailers after delaying an overhaul of business rates.Treasury officials have accelerated work on a new e-commerce tax in the past few weeks and are scoping out details of a potential levy, including what goods and services will be covered, sources told The Daily Telegraph.Whitehall insiders said that a so-called “Amazon tax” under a wider

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The argument in favour of us having all those clever and informed people governing us, in such detail, is that they’re all clever and informed people governing us. Therefore they can correct our misbehaviours and solve our problems, in detail.

This all rather fails when those doing the governing are neither clever nor informed:

Rishi Sunak is stepping up plans for an online sales tax to level the playing field between tech behemoths and high street retailers after delaying an overhaul of business rates.

Treasury officials have accelerated work on a new e-commerce tax in the past few weeks and are scoping out details of a potential levy, including what goods and services will be covered, sources told The Daily Telegraph.

Whitehall insiders said that a so-called “Amazon tax” under a wider business rates shake-up is “clearly the direction of travel” being considered by the Chancellor, but that final decisions will be pushed out beyond the upcoming Budget.

Tax incidence is the study of who really pays a tax. The wallet of which live human being gets lighter as a result of the existence of the tax?

For business rates this is landlords. For a sales tax this is consumers.

Now, yes, we do understand the larger picture. It’s simply impossible that government could get by while devouring fewer societal resources. There are green boondoggles to fund, inefficient manners of providing health care to finance, diversity advisers who need paying and so on. Absolutely everything government currently does is essential, must be done by government and no reduction in the bill is possible by even the merest iota, penny or groat.

Therefore if the revenue from one tax seems to be sliding another must be created to make up the difference. Given the inability of any politician with a chequebook to spend less that’s just the way it’s gonna’ be.

But this still leaves us with that point the clever and informed seem to have missed. Why do we want to transfer that tax bill from weighing upon the wallets of the landlords to doing so upon those of consumers?

It is the failure to even note these not very small details that brings into doubt the idea that government is run by the clever and informed, isn’t it?

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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