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Posts Tagged ‘sanctimony

Agent Haddon Goes Wild for Taxes

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Author Mark Haddon has come out for higher income taxes on the wealthy like him:

“I’m a wealthy person. Austerity measures introduced by the coalition have caused real suffering to many people, but my comfortable life hasn’t changed in the slightest. Why have I, and people like me, been asked to contribute nothing?” Haddon told the Sunday Times he had annoyed his accountant by insisting on paying all tax that was due rather than seeking to avoid it. “I should be paying more tax,” he said.

(emphasis mine)

Mr. Haddon clarified on his blog:

also, for the record, all those on twitter and in the guardian comment columns who suggest that i simply send an extra cheque to the HMRC are missing the point. i am talking about a systemic, moral and political problem not personal feelings of guilt. and, in point of fact, i do send an extra cheque, but i send it to oxfam. some people think that’s wrong, too, but you can’t please everybody…

(emphasis mine)

Some questions for Mr. Haddon:

  1. What in your mind is the optimum marginal tax rate you should be paying?
  2. Why did you not cut a cheque to the HMRC based on your desired rate rather than paying only what was legally required?
  3. Did you take advantage of any deductions such as the personal allowance?
  4. Do you take any advantage of tax sheltered schemes such as Individual Savings Accounts, Pension Funds, National Savings Accounts, and other such devices?
  5. Would you release your tax returns (present and past) to the public?
  6. Do you take a deduction off your tax/taxable income because of your charitable contribution to Oxfam?
  7. Given that you do send an extra cheque to Oxfam (and your language makes it seem you see it as an adequate replacement for the tax you should be paying to the HMRC but don’t), if your tax rates are increased, would your contributions to Oxfam decrease? Do you think that higher tax rates would decrease contributions to charities by others?

To be charitable to Mr. Haddon there is a collective action problem here. He does not want to contribute alone to the HMRC, since his individual contribution would be minuscule given the total tax revenue. But that does not get him off the hook. His desire to pay more tax implies that the government spends wisely, so it speaks volumes that he does not trust the government enough to voluntarily give it more money, in fact he trusts Oxfam more. Is his call for higher taxes just a signal to all the “right-minded” folk that he is one of them?

And one final point. Mr. Haddon talks about the systemic, moral and political problem of low taxes and high austerity. But his solution is not to convince his fellow 1%-ers to contribute to charity to alleviate the hardships of people he claims to care about; it is to use the power flowing from the barrel of a gun, to force others to adopt his moral positions and to live as he prescribes.

The last word goes to Mr. Haddon:

P.S. Title of the post alludes to Agent Z Goes Wild, a children’s book by Mark Haddon.

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

August 14, 2012 at 11:58