"The Art Of Taxation Consists In So Plucking The Goose As To Obtain The Largest Number Of Feathers With The Least Possible Amount Of Hissing."

So said Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Chief Minister to King Louis XIV.  The taxes that cause the most hissing for Britons today are…

Council tax…
Stamp duty…
Inheritance tax…
The TV licence fee…

What do they have in common?  We write cheques for them.  Taxes are most unpopular when we feel them plucked directly from us.

When in America it is often annoying to have chosen your purchase and then find it’s more expensive at the till because of the tax that is added at the point of sale.

This idea and the wider idea of tax transparency is the subject of a Ten Minute Rule Bill being introduced by Nigel Evans MP in the Commons later today.  Speaking to Mr Evans wants receipts for goods to include a statement of tax paid:

"Many people really don’t take too much regard of how much taxation they’re paying when they buy products.  We know that when people are buying things like food from supermarkets… there’s no VAT on it.

But of course there’s VAT on virtually everything else, certainly when you go to a restaurant there’s VAT, when you fill up the car with petrol there’s not only VAT but there’s other customs and excise duties on that, the same with alcohol and cigarettes."

There is a demand for this transparency.  A poll of 400 super consumers by APCO Worldwide – released exclusively to ConservativeHome – found that 79% would like to see the amount of tax they pay to fund the NHS stated clearly on their wage slips.

Mr Evans’ specific idea is a relatively small one but the idea of tax transparency has far-reaching implications if pursued to its logical conclusion.

11 comments for: The tax revolution begins with transparency

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