Taxes paid in anger

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Several people have already referred in comments to Simon Jenkins' article in the Guardian on tax today - which is very good (everyone has their day). I recommend it.

As he concludes:

Property taxes cannot be evaded, and properly imposed are a fair generator of government revenue. Better, they are traditionally paid in anger. Any tax paid in anger is a good tax — the opposite of a stealth tax, because the payer demands to know how it is spent. Property taxes are thus a spur to democratic interest and activity. That, of course, is why politicians detest them.

Two things: this is not a plea for an increase in council tax, it is a plea for property land value taxation to capture wealth as a tax base.

Second, Jenkins' point on tax and democracy is a good one. I have argued there are five reasons to tax:

  1. Raise revenue;
  2. Reprice goods and services considered to be incorrectly priced by the market such as tobacco, alcohol, carbon emissions etc.;
  3. Redistribute income and wealth;
  4. Raise representation within the democratic process because it has been found that only when an electorate and a government are bound by the common interest of tax does democratic accountability really work; and finally to facilitate:
  5. Reorganisation of the economy through fiscal policy.

Jenkins is specifically endorsing point 4 - one that few people seem to understand but which seems increasingly important.