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March 03, 2007

Lib Dems' bonkers tax plans

At the last election, the Lib Dems wanted to scrap Council Tax in favour of a local income tax. There’s some sense behind this – many people, often retired, live in expensive houses but don’t have enormous incomes. Council tax in its present form ignores income and ability to pay, charging people purely on the value of their home.

Well now, they’ve come up with another proposal which sounds completely contradictory. They want to charge a Wealth Tax on people with homes worth more than £1m.

It’s a nice idea. It sounds like a tax against those nasty rich people. But it’s based on the same fallacy that makes council tax so stupid. It simply isn’t true that people in expensive houses are always rich. Many older people have lived in one house for more than half a century – and house price inflation has pushed their house value up to silly levels. That doesn’t mean they have a large income, and certainly doesn’t mean they’re able to pay – or deserving of – a wealth tax.

Surely a wealth tax on incomes would be far more sensible. And far less hypocritical.

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