OK, you read it here first. Mr Cameron? President Obama? Are you listening, gents?
Here is how you solve the problems of megarich scumbags who can get away with paying less tax than their cleaners and chauffeurs because they can afford officeblocks full of accountants and lawyers to tweak their affairs. Oh, while still reserving the right to whinge about dreadful public services and the national debt.
Yes, they are scumbags because they do not pay their full whack. I\’m not accusing anybody of cheating on their taxes because the megarich don\’t need to, that\’s what expensive accountants and lawyers are for. They just get away with whatever they can. Which can be a remarkable amount (check out the non-domiciled UK peers).
But this is a free society and if that\’s the way the law (after a lot of lobbying by the rich) is set up, why shouldn\’t they take advantage of it? After all, there\’s absolutely no reward for actually paying up a fair share of your wealth in tax except the self-congratulatory glow of knowing that you\’re supporting the expensively peaceful and safe civil society that helped make you rich. Which, frankly, ain\’t worth beans to Homo economicus, as any economist will tell you. So here\’s the big idea.
What we need is (ta da! Drumroll)
The Taxpayer Championships.
There are no runners-up, no shortlists. The individual person who paid the most tax in any particular tax-year is the Champion Taxpayer. His/her reward is a one year tax holiday, providing he/she remains domiciled in the awarding country for the following three years. Also lots of adulatory publicity, top spot in the Sunday Times Rich List and a big trophy if he wants it.
To be fair to the non-megarich there can be another event: the person who paid the most tax as a proportion of income can get the same prize of a one-year tax holiday (with the same proviso that he stays domiciled in the awarding country for the following three years).
And there could be a small non-listed company event too – a friend of mine who knows more about these things than I do, said that it wouldn\’t do to let multi-nationals enter the game because they can afford several officeblocks full of accountants and they\’d find a way to cheat. So no multinationals or quoted companies, just the small and medium-sized businesses that do most of the hard taxpaying. Same two categories as well: Champion Taxpayer (gross) and Champion Taxpayer (in ratio to earnings).
Think of the publicity gains to the noble people who enter by paying their proper level of taxes. Instead of joining all the other bonus-getters as the Nation\’s Favourite Scumbags (after Politicians, Lawyers and Estate Agents) they would be heroes. Ditto for companies. Only strong stable companies can afford to pay a lot of tax. If a company never appeared in the entrants, its shareholders might reasonably wonder why not. Also the year\’s tax holiday would give the business a nice bonus that would be directly linked to their competence as companies and their public spirit.
If it was handled right, the Taxpayer Championships could rival the Oscars for glitz and the international art market for outrageous my-wad\’s-bigger-than-yours oneupmanship.
Non-dom foreigners would be falling over themselves to be domiciled here for tax, so they could show how much tax they pay. It would stop being clever to pay practically no tax on a huge income.
The only problem would be: how ever would the Treasury spend all the extra money they\’d get? (Answers on a postcard please…)