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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Taxing decisions

Is there no end to the Americanisation of British politics? Following the controversy over the tax arrangements of Ken Livingstone and indications by David Cameron that he would be happy to publish his own tax return, the Welsh Government are now getting in on the act.

Today's Western Mail reports that First Minister, Carwyn Jones and Welsh Government ministers are to discuss whether they will declare their tax returns. A spokesman is quoted as saying: “Transparency is an important facet of Government. This is the something the First Minister will be discussing with ministerial colleagues.”

A Welsh Labour MP has gone further. Wayne David, who represents Caerphilly has called for all MPs and AMs to publish their tax returns. He hopes that all public representatives have nothing to be embarrassed about. So do I. And I am in favour of transparency. But where does this trend stop?

I believe that we should publish details of all income received from the public purse, together with information to enable people to judge whether we are doing the job they expect of us.

But, surely, the key requirement is that we pay tax in the same way as everybody else and do not use devices, legal or otherwise, to reduce our bill. There has to be an element of trust here.

I suppose that if we are to regain that trust then the publication of tax returns may be the way forward but it is a very sad day for democracy that this might be necessary.
Tax avoidance seems to be the problem, people seem to be living to a very high standard but their tax bill may be very small. Maybe we should be seeing household income which tax should be paid on so that we can compare it to the standard of living that that household is living.
I am sure the vast majority of the public don't really want to see individuals tax returns they just want the tax avoidance schemes plugged.
This is something that politicians will live to regret as the media will keep digging to satisfy the public's desire to see other peoples business.
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