Monday, August 24, 2009

When will someone scrap working tax credits and make tax fairer?

OH my there is a genius article in this morning's Daily Mail that the editor must have had to mull long and hard over. Titled, "Cameron is urged to cut benefits for middle-class" with a line in it saying, "Limiting the credits to households earning less than £50,000 would mean 130,000 families losing an average £500 a year." I say Paul Dacre must have mulled long and hard over it because its one of those duplicitous type pieces where the Mail has to deal with two of its own little campaigns that contradict each other.

On the one hand, the Mail hates, quite rightly, the "benefits culture", that has seen the number of people unemployed (that is workless rather than dole claimers) soar to over 6 million. Whilst on the other hand it loves that its middle England middle-class readership as it were. Thus, it finds itself arguing for benefits for those that don't really need them, whilst simultaneously moaning about lazy bastards claiming at the bottom of the ladder.

The thing is, what should really be at issue here is not the currently set limits to which tax credits get paid to people, but rather the system itself. It's not the first time I've said it, and it won;t be the last, but if Cameron wants to be really progressive and radical in Government he should scrap the tax credit system for those who work, and redress the balance with changes to the amount of tax people pay.

Putting it in the simplest possible way, currently we all pay tax, and then some people fill out a huge form and are given some of it back after someone in an administration office processes the form. At the bottom end of the pay scale, what this results in that those who work for very little find themselves trapped by the system because if they earn a little more they lose a lot more in their returned credits.

What would make far more sense is to scrap the working families tax credit and simply raise the tax-free threshold of earnings to £10,000. In a single stroke you would see all those people at the bottom having far more money, and the "middle classes" that the Daily Mail is concerned about would have a boost too. At the same time you would then reduce the enormous operating costs of a system that is not about giving out benefits but is rather about trapping the lowest paid in low paid work.

It's not rocket science.

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