Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tories to Look At Flat (or at least Flatter) Taxes

George Osborne, shadow chancellor, at the Social Market Foundation think-tank on Wednesday 7 September 2005 said:

“You need not go much further than Adam Smith, who outlined the principles of good taxation over 200 years ago. He called for taxes that were transparent, simple, efficient, and fair.’’

:Smith did not outline his proposals for tax: he stated as maxims what were the premises of good tax policy, which because of their ‘evident justice and utility’ they have ‘recommended [themselves] more or less to the attention of all nations.’ (WN V.ii.b: 825-7)
That many modern nations have moved away from these maxims of common usage in the 18th-century is a cause of regret.

George Osborne continues

“In Britain, thanks to the complexity and confusion which Gordon Brown has introduced into our tax system, there is a strong case for flatter, simpler and fairer taxes; and I believe that the case for a flat tax, even with the obvious obstacles I have set out, at least needs serious consideration.
Gordon Brown has made it clear that he is not interested in a proper discussion of an idea which the rest of the world is waking up to. It shows how his thinking is stuck in the past and how dogmatic he has become. So we Conservatives will do the thinking instead.
Over the next few weeks I will announce a commission to look at the implications for Britain of the flat tax abroad and of flatter and simpler taxes at home. It will be independent of any political party, it will report next year, and its conclusions will be available to everyone.
Whether or not flat taxes prove to be the answer to the current mess the tax system is in, we must be guided by our principles of transparency, simplicity, efficiency and fairness in setting tax policy.”

Now that is good news for tax reform; a commitment to at least (even at last!) examine how a flat tax could be introduced in some version (‘flatter and simpler taxes’). Clearly, Mr. Osborne is someone whom we should keep an eye on as he (perhaps) really goes places politically.


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