The UK Mission to Tax Us All

 | Apr 05, 2012 | 9:45 AM EDT  | Comments
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After living a long time in Europe I often fought against the stereotypes of socialism, but the latest stories out of the U.K. are a bit too spine-chilling for me.

I'm all for the government collecting taxes as a means of support, but in London I really missed not being able to file my own tax return. Even in the years when I had just taken a standard deduction in the U.S., I looked forward to my occasional refund check. I even filed for a refund at the last minute because (as Krusty the Klown would say) "I'm an idiot!"

But the state mechanism of how taxes worked in the U.K. was disturbing. You don't file a return if you work for a company. The State takes the taxes and that's that. If you declare yourself as self-employed you can recover the equivalent of deductions, but most people don't have that option while working for a corporation. The government even floated the idea of having all paychecks going to the State first and then paying the employees to avoid lost tax revenue. (I'm sorry you lost your house because we didnt' pay you, but we can't pay you your salary without a 27B/6. -- For those of you who clicked that link, Terry Gilliam was probably another American bemused by British government.)

This tax issue has become so important in recent days that the two leading London Mayoral candidates are squaring up to each other in an elevator (lift) and expletives are flying around.

The issue isn't how London's different council taxes should be reformed. It's who pays the most tax and deserves to be mayor. Apparently not paying 40% for any reason (deductions, capital gains, anything) is tantamount to treason. Before the election is up, I fully expect at least one candidate to agree to pay 100% tax and starve to death just outside his or her office, just to avoid any additional taxpayer expense by seeking food and shelter.

Now it looks like the government is turning on Amazon (AMZN) for having the temerity to ship products to Britain, but incorporate elsewhere. Its decision to incorporate in Luxembourg apparently costs the UK hypothetical tax revenue and that is under investigation. I suppose if Parliament wrote a law taxing Amazon at 99% there would be even more lost revenue to be aggrieved about.

And I thought the Monty Python tax solution was a joke:

"To bolster the British economy, I would tax all foreigners living abroad."

Get your checkbooks out.

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