From today's lesson:
The national debt stood at £1,250.3 billion on 31 December 2011. Half of that is about £625 billion. £625 billion, £18 billion, what's the difference, they're all the same, numbers.
What would fairer tax look like? Council tax is the most regressive – the more expensive the property, the lower the proportion of tax paid – so correct that first, and then turn to a mansion tax. Britain's wealth taxes have atrophied. Inheritance tax doesn't work, capital gains entirely forgiven at death. As for the 50p top tax rate, because the rich had a year's notice they took their income in the year before it was introduced. Then, as soon as the cut to 45% was announced a year ahead, they delayed their income until it came in. This two-year tax planning, says the IFS, cost the exchequer £18bn. That's the same as the £18bn cut from the poorest.
It shows just what colossal discretionary sums float among the few at the top: a one-off levy could solve half the national debt while barely touching their lifestyles.
Can anyone think what a "one-off levy" of £625,000,000,000 that barely touched the lifestyles of the rich would look like?