Wealth tax would prove taxing for the Tories

A think tank of policy wonks and policy makers, the Wealth Tax Commission (WTC), has recently published its report/proposals into how the UK should implement a wealth tax – to fund the enormous sums HM Government has been spending to try to mitigate the covid-19 pandemic. This report has received a lot of well-deserved media comment. It is well written, fair minded, and full of useful research.

I’m sure most readers of my blog have seen some of the media stories, and you will certainly have views. As somebody who is close to the target’s bulls-eye, here are my views – as they stand in December 2020.

The key proposals are summarised in the table ES.1 below.

Table ES.1: Revenue estimates for one-off taxes, based on current wealth distribution

These data look a bit suspect to me. Apparently by 2030, one in four homes in London will be worth at least £1m; this is about 1m homes, so at the lower end of the table the figures look plausible. But at the top end, these figures look undercooked. The Sunday Times Rich List has 1000 people in it with assets of £120m+, and anecdotally it misses more people than it overestimates, so the idea that there are only 22,000 people with assets of £10m+ does not fit the power curve. My guess is that there are already at least 50k people in the UK worth £10m+. Whether they are all taxpayers or not is, I suppose, a question one should consider – but I am going to treat as off scope for this piece – as the idea that I should have assets confiscated so that other multimillionaires can avoid tax altogether feels absurd.

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Nov 2020: spirits lifted in lockdown 2.0

November saw the second national lockdown in England.

Most shops closed. All pubs/restaurants closed. Hair dressers closed. No social mixing indoors, and max 1 person to be met up with outside. Not a whole lot of fun. The weather has been relatively nice to us – it’s been damp and chilly, but not unrelentingly so. I’ve found some new parts of London.

Not exactly lyrical

This country park perhaps doth protest too much
The mother of all parliament’s hill
What counts as a park, in London

At work, we assumed things would turn downwards – as business became harder to do. But in fact we were busy in November. Much busier than we expected.

Trump is now officially a loser. It feels hard to describe Biden as a winner – perhaps I know how Trump feels? – but it is certainly easy to describe Trump as a loser.

But the word of the month has been Vaccines. Both an expensive Pfizer/BioNTech one, and a ‘good enough, and easy enough, and cheap enough’ one from Oxford University/AstraZeneca. Suddenly the mood music has changed very much for the better.

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October 2020: A miserable end to a miserable month

It’s national lockdown, in England, again.

It seemed pretty bad being put into Tier 2, here in London. This arcane form of lockdown jargon has us Londoners unable to socialise indoors with people from another household. Which turns every law-abiding restaurant’s dinner, at least in central London, into Valentine’s night.

The weather has been miserable too. The wettest month for over 10 years. Thankfully, not unrelentingly so.

Zone 2, London

But at the end of the month, kaboom, we have another national lockdown for (at least) a month. It doesn’t sound as if it will be quite as bad as the spring version – while pubs/restaurants have to close for eat in dining, takeaway-etc is very much allowed, and a variety of shops/services are allowed to continue to trade. But household mixing is off, almost including outdoors, and misery has set in.

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