The US billionaire and convicted tax evader Leona Helmsey once famously said, “Only the little people pay taxes”.
It seems she was right. The scandal of the super-rich avoiding their taxes is the latest crisis to engulf the Tories. As one Treasury spokesperson admitted, “There are millionaires paying a lower tax rate than ordinary taxpayers”.
Treasury figures show that nearly 1,000 UK taxpayers who earn more than £1 million a year are paying less than 30 percent of their income in taxes.
And out of the 200 who earn more than £10 million a year, 12 pay less than 10 percent in tax.
The rich exploit various loopholes to get out of paying their taxes. One way is to get tax relief by donating to charities.
This means that the rich can avoid paying taxes altogether by claiming taxes back after making a donation. And they get to choose the “causes” that get money—and those that don’t.
The Tories rushed to convince people that they are as outraged as the rest of us at this state of affairs.
Chancellor George Osborne—a multimillionaire—claimed he was “shocked” at how little tax the rich are paying.
He claimed the government’s plan to cap tax relief on charitable donations will stop rich tax avoidance.
But the idea that millionaire Tories will clamp down on their millionaire friends is laughable.
They have cut corporation tax twice—and they plan to cut it twice more by 2014. For those who bother to pay it, they have slashed the top rate of tax.
Osborne’s last budget chucked about £17,500 in free money to every millionaire in Britain. And what have the Tories done for the rest of us?
They have frozen our pay. They’ve attacked our pensions. They’ve slashed jobs, services and benefits.
The latest cut in corporation tax will deprive the public purse of £880 million by 2015-16—while Osborne announced another £10 billion in welfare cuts by 2016.
The government has spent more time spying on benefit claimants than they have worrying about the super-rich and their billions.
The growing anger at the Tories has sent them plummeting in the opinion polls.
The strikes on 10 May can galvanise this anger and strengthen the resistance to this government of the rich for the rich.