Monday, 27 September 2021

Crappy Labour conference proposals

From the BBC:

Labour has promised to spend an extra £28bn a year on making the UK economy more "green" if it wins power. Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the money would go on offshore wind farms, planting trees and developing batteries.

Waste of money.

In her speech to Labour's annual conference in Brighton, she also pledged to phase out business rates to help the Covid-damaged High Street. And she said giant tech firms would pay more tax in future.

By all means cut taxes on businesses and lighten the admin burden for small businesses, High Street or not. Simplify and reduce VAT and NIC. Scrap the 'making tax digital' nonsense. Get rid of the stupid import formalities. Plus tons of other non-tax related crap.

Phasing out Business Rates will achieve absolutely nothing in that regard, it's a straight bung to land owners.

Sure, there are lots of owner-occupier businesses, they have to pay Rates, but they are still at a huge advantage to tenant businesses who have to pay rent and Rates. If they phase out Rates, then rents will just go up to soak up the difference, making the gap even bigger. If you've an eye to helping all businesses, phasing out Rates is the worst way of doing it.

As to giant tech firms, is she totally innumerate? £28 bn for green crapola and £30 bn Business Rates lost = £58 bn.

What are the UK profits of Facebook? Maximum one tenth of global profits of $29 bn, call it £4 billion. I can't be bothered looking up Microsoft and Google and so on. Even if you managed to tax all their UK profits at 100%, that wouldn't cover a quarter of the extra spending and tax breaks for landowners. In practice, it will barely touch the sides.


Piotr Wasik said...

Every activist I spoke to wants to tax Facebook, and my comment about how much (or really how little) money there is in it per capita or per user falls on deaf ears, I hear from them that corporate lobbysts washed my brain (but they have billions!). Sure, Facebook is unbelievably valuable company and Zuckerberg is unbelievably rich, and it is an aberration that such a large wealth was accumulated, but there are only few unicorns like this globally, and apart from satisfying someobody's holy outrage, taxing these can change very little.

Scrobs. said...

Please excuse the 'cut and paste', but this Wiki para puts her in some sort or perspective...

"Reeves's parliamentary credit card was stopped at the start of 2015, owing to a debt of £4,033.63, which she subsequently repaid.[30] In 2018, she claimed £188,686 in expenses, of which £149,514 was in staffing costs and £22,089 in office costs, £30,422 more than the average parliamentary claim of £158,264.[31]"

Certainly a shoo in for when Labour 'get in'...

Mark Wadsworth said...

PW, it is depressing how few people understand basic numbers. You can't propose new taxes without looking at the tax base. But keep up the good work.

Scr, sure she's greedy and dishonest, so are nearly all MPs.

George Carty said...

Agreed that the wind energy spending and business rate phase-out are stupid, but surely it's a good idea to tax Big Tech monopolies like Facebook and Google?

Those sectors of activity are inherently "winner-takes-all": if some genius developed a superior alternative to Facebook, it would simply replace Facebook (much as Facebook itself replaced MySpace) rather than restoring a competitive marketplace.

This means that breaking up such monopolies may not work as a solution.

Mark Wadsworth said...

GC: "surely it's a good idea to tax Big Tech monopolies like Facebook and Google?"

In principle yes, they collect rent ("winner takes all", as you say) and take the piss with tax compliance.
a) how are you going to enforce it*? (there might well be an answer, but nobody has worked it out yet)
b) how much do you think it will raise (clue: not huge amounts)?
c) would you give Google credit for providing great stuff like Google Maps, that's a public service? If the UK government had set this up they would spend £ billions on it and it would be shit. FB provides nothing of value AFAICS.

* FB and Google get their income from advertising. If it were up to me, I would just disallow the expense for UK business customers. So it will be the customers paying the tax (indirectly) and this will push amounts banked by FB and Google down a bit (the rentier always bears the tax).

ontheotherhand said...

I wish that the regulators were not asleep at the wheel when Facebook and Google are buying competitors. I don't see why Facebook was allowed to buy WattsApp, or why Google Maps was allowed to buy Waze.

Bayard said...

Phasing out Business Rates will achieve absolutely nothing in that regard, it's a straight bung to land owners.

As will be the £28bn a year "to make the UK more green". Rich owners of agricultural land will get lots of money to plant trees on the less useful bits, which trees will mostly then die or get outcompeted by the trees that would have grown there anyway and there will be bore subsidies to landowners to erect windmills (the big, expensive kind, not the kind that the average Joe can afford, naturally).