Tuesday 18 December 2012

They asked for it

Douglas Carswell muses on how the internet and the concept of licensing "intangible assets" enable companies to avoid paying taxes designed for a system of physical production (mines, factories) in today's City AM Forum, and concludes thusly:

"But if the tax base turns out to be a river that can flow away," you ask, "how are governments going to manage to raise revenue to pay for all the things that governments do?"

How indeed. Perhaps they won’t. Without a dependable tax base, maybe the era of Big Government is over.

How about taxing land values instead of turnover, income and profits? Costa Coffee trades from 700 shops; Google has offices and data centres (and their employees all have to live somewhere); the businesses who sell goods or services via Amazon or eBay still need somewhere to store their goods; they need parcel companies to deliver them, who have their own offices, warehouses and car parks etc etc. And if those premises are currently abroad (for whatever nefarious reasons) then let's build more suitable premises in this country and invite them all over.

Just for a giggle, I've emailed this post to theforum@cityam.com, feel free to have a go yourself.


Lola said...

Damn'. Did a brilliant comment without realising that moderation was on and forgot to keep a copy.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, sorry to hear that, but you should have been emailing it to City AM.

Old BE said...

I assume you haven't read Carswell's book where he appears to be in favour of land taxation as less mobile. His main thrust is that taxation and spending should be significantly lower.


Mark Wadsworth said...

BE, did he? I thought he liked "local sales tax" (the worst kind of tax), so that's news to me. But I assume you are correct, in which case that is welcome news indeed.

Old BE said...

He does like consumption taxes too I think... Large parts of his book are about how we can't keep taxing income and companies in the way we do now and that in the longer term this is a good thing because the tax base will be smaller meaning the state must be smaller.


Robin Smith said...


Then he is "begging the question" he wants to be asked. Normal stuff if avoiding root cause.

He is also insane or psychopathic to want a smaller tax base.

An advancing society means increasing rents, collected privately or for the common good.

No matter, he is clearly clueless about taxation simply for saying you need other taxes than the natural one. A Rent Seeker.

Tim Almond said...

LVT + CI would solve a load of problems in this regard.

If say, Microsoft was looking for somewhere to put a data center, instead of Dublin (presumably for the tax breaks), they could put it in Sunderland. Cheap staff (because of no tax), very low corporation tax, and the staff would still be incentivised to go and work on the data center.

(Despite the fact that data centers employ only a few handfuls of staff, they also require lots of subcontractors to do construction, maintenance, cabling etc).

You'd solve unemployment for many, create a load of wealth and wouldn't require all sorts of transfers of wealth into spastic regeneration schemes.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, exactly, that was the sub-text. Why warehouse stuff in Ireland and ship it to the UK when you can warehouse it in the tax-free UK? Such companies will work out the marginal extra profit of doing so and will be quite happy to pay anything less than that in rent.

DBC Reed said...

Legalising Resale Price Maintenance (as in the USA and it looks like China) would put a stop to predatory discounting and sort out Amazon for good and all.Actually I don't feel sorry for retailers en masse because they lobbied for abolition of RPM in 1964 so they could put manufacturers out of business by setting prices in shops that suited themselves. Now they have been caught out by the same legislation.NB Helen Mercer in her masterly working-paper on Resale Price Maintenance for the LSE (on Net) compares the 1964 abolition of RPM to the 1846 abolition of the Corn Laws: the latter ko'd British agriculture ;the former ko'd manufacture.Now retail has been ko'd.What a way to run an economy.
(Edward Heath abolished RPM because he wanted to join the EEC and it was banned by Treaty of Rome;re-banned by Treaty of Nice;banned again by Treaty of Lisbon)