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By Peter Hoskin
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The
MP who brought you campaigns on fuel duty and the 10p tax is now speaking out on
another issue, although it is related to those other two. Using figures provided
by the Treasury, Robert Halfon today points out that a fifth of income tax
receipts go towards funding benefits – and he goes on from there to attack
Labour for wanting to impose a “welfare tax”. Here’s how he explains it in
the Daily Mail
:

“These
figures from the government show the astonishing amount of tax low earners are
paying for welfare benefits.

The Labour
party want to impose a further welfare tax on low earners by spending billions
more on benefits and oppose every measure the government takes to try to cut
low earners’ tax bills.

These
figures are why we need to continue to reform welfare urgently.”

This
idea of a “welfare tax” is striking for two particular reasons. First, it clarifies
what could be one of the most
important dividing-lines of the next election
– between tax cuts and
in-work benefits. Remember when, in PMQs a few
months ago
, David Cameron said, “I think that the right thing to do is to
cut the taxes of people who are in work, rather than taking more in taxes and
then redistributing it through tax credits”? Mr Halfon’s point certainly
overlaps with that.

And,
second, it’s an example of the “compacted doctrines” that Paul Abbott – who
works for Mr Halfon – wrote about in his piece
on Conservatism and comic books
earlier. I won’t spoil Paul’s argument
here; suffice to recommend that you read it.

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