COMMENT: For Britain to compete, our taxes must be simpler and lower
Mar 2014 03

Our Director, John O’Connell, has a column in today’s Daily Telegraph about Britain’s maddeningly complex tax system.

Complexity is expensive. That’s just as true of tax systems and economies as it is of manufacturing processes and prices. And few things are as maddeningly complex as the British tax system. As rising powers in Asia, South America and elsewhere develop increasingly competitive legal systems, workforces and infrastructure, our unwieldy and cumbersome tax code is becoming an obstacle to investment and growth that we can no longer afford to ignore.

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South Bucks waste money on waste removal
Feb 2014 28

South Bucks Council recently informed local taxpayers of ‘exciting changes’ being made to their waste and recycling collection service, but one local resident is ‘excited’ in a completely different way.

‘I am rarely excited by matters of waste disposal,’ says South Bucks resident and TPA supporter Susan Dudley, ‘but I have to say that in this instance they were right as I am excited by feelings of anger and annoyance to find that my council tax money has been spent on issuing households with a third new wheelie bin, a black one with a fancy blue top. Continue Reading

Environment Agency pesters pest controllers
Feb 2014 28

At a time when the Environment Agency has been criticised over its advice and handling of the terrible floods across our country, it seems odd that it should be pursuing a burdensome and costly new level of bureaucracy. The EA now wants to create a paper trail for every item of pest control waste—such as rat baits left over from a treatment —and is threatening to charge pest controllers £5 per disposal item. For a busy pest controller this could amount to a whopping extra cost of £40 per day plus a great deal of time taken to fill in the documents and process them. Continue Reading

Polling shows 80% do not believe there should be further tax hikes on wine & spirits as we launches campaign drinks coasters
Feb 2014 27

We’ve unveiled the latest phase of our campaign to bring about an end to further automatic tax hikes on wine and spirits. New polling reveals that half of all Brits believe taxes on wine and spirits are too high and 80% do not believe there should be further tax increases on wine and spirits. The average household will pay nearly £300 just in duties on wine and spirits in 2013-14 and that this will increase by nearly a third in the next five years, according to analysis of Treasury projections.

In a concerted effort to force the Chancellor to scrap further planned tax hikes, the TPA – along with our partners the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and the  Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) - will distribute 300,000 drinks coasters to pubs and bars across the UK as part of the Call Time on Duty campaign.

The coasters reveal how much consumers are paying in tax on their drinks - 79% of an average bottle of spirits and 57% of an average bottle of wine – and urges drinkers to lobby the Chancellor to scrap the hated Alcohol Duty Escalator (ADE) in the forthcoming Budget.

Key findings:

  • The average household will pay £297 just in duties on wine and spirits in 2013-14.
  • The average household will pay £393 just in duties on wine and spirits in 2018-19 That is an increase of nearly a third (32.2%) in just five years.
  • Since George Osborne became Chancellor the average household now pays 13.3% more in duties on wine and spirits. This will have increased by 49.8% by 2018-19.
  • These increases are despite the fact that consumption of alcohol in the UK is falling according to the Office for National Statistics.

Results of ComRes polling:

  • More than half of people polled (54% for wine, 56% for spirits) believe that the current level of tax on wine or spirits is ‘too high’, and exactly half (50%) believe it is too high in both cases.
  • Four in five believe that the current level of tax on wine or spirits is either ‘too high’ or ‘about right’ (81% for wine, 80% for spirits). The vast majority of British adults do not believe that the level of tax on wine and spirits should be increased yet the ADE will automatically increase duty by 2% above inflation this year.
  • Nine in ten British adults who offer an opinion (92%) correctly state that the majority of EU countries have a lower level of taxation on wine and spirits than the UK.
  • Yet just one in five (20%) polled are aware that UK alcohol consumption per person is not higher than the European average.
  • This suggests that most British adults are not aware that British citizens pay higher taxes on wine and spirits while drinking less alcohol.

Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“Taxpayers are handing over a fortune to the taxman when they buy a drink and they deserve to know just how much of what they pay goes to the Exchequer. George Osborne has a chance to scrap planned tax hikes at next month’s budget. He did beer drinkers a favour last year so it’s only fair that this time he scrap the escalator and bring some cheer to those who enjoy a glass of wine or spirits.”

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:
“We have always said that a further tax hike would be deeply unfair. The Chancellor’s alcohol super tax is bad for the economy, bad for business and bad for consumers. Scrapping it one year early would allow the Chancellor to drive down the deficit, support our pubs and restaurants, and help this great British industry to create more jobs and increase exports.” 

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive, said:
“It is time for the Chancellor to show his support for the Scotch Whisky industry which employs thousands of people and earns £135 a second for the balance of trade. It is unfair on the industry, which is vital to the Scottish and British economies, and consumers that, in the UK, 79% of a bottle of Scotch is made up of excise duty and vat. The domestic market for Scotch Whisky has declined 12% in volume since the alcohol duty escalator was introduced. George Osborne should boost the UK’s public finances, the industry and consumer confidence by scrapping the escalator this year and freezing duty.”

The name ‘National Insurance’ is misleading. ‘Earnings Tax’ is much more honest
Feb 2014 24

The Government has indicated that it plans to rename National Insurance contributions as ‘Earnings Tax’ in a move to bring some honesty into the tax system. This is great news for which the TaxPayers’ Alliance has long campaigned. And Ben Gummer MP deserves much credit for his campaigning for the change, too.

Although it’s just a name, it’s important. National Insurance is not insurance, it’s a tax. When it was introduced it had many insurance features but these have long since disappeared, making the name ‘National Insurance’ both dishonest and misleading. It would be a lot simpler if we just called it what it is, as our video demonstrates:

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