Mirrlees – one mad or bad idea kicked into touch

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I was amused yesterday. I had to head to London for the afternoon for a meeting. Before leaving I got a call from Channel 4 to record a piece for the evening news on the Fortune Forum meeting, scheduled for last night. I’ve blogged this here, and thanks to Marina Hyde at the Guardian the issue was in the public domain.

So I pretty much repeated my views to camera and then the reporting team went off to see Sir James Mirrlees (Nobel Laureate).

And he backed down from the idea of tax relief. His original suggestion had been that half of the gift any person made to the Millennium Development Fund he and his cronies suggested creating be deducted from a person or company’s calculated tax bill – so giving effective 50% tax relief – even though there is no such tax rate in the UK.

But in the face of criticism he’d backed away from this by yesterday evening. In fact all talk of tax relief had gone when he spoke to Channel 4. He still wanted the government to match fund these fauxlanthropist’s donations – including those from offshore – which remains a wholly unacceptable mandating of government expenditure by the wealthiest in society to suit their own vanity (because most of their projects do seem to be associate with photo opportunities for their products), but at least the direct tax consequences were dead.

So, that’s one crack pot idea from Sir James Mirrlees consigned to the bin after a little adverse publicity.

Let’s hope the whole Mirrlees report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, incorporating the madness of replacing corporation tax with VAT and a further shift in the tax burden from the wealthiest in society to the poorest goes the same way.

So that’s Murphy 1: Mirrlees 0 (although I admit I deflected a great shot from Marina Hyde)

I’m rather looking ford to making it two: nil.