Think Pieces

Tax is five months' hard labour

Written by | Tuesday 24 May 2005

THE average Brit spends five months of the year working for the government. From January 1st to May 31st this year, every penny you have earned has gone to the Treasury. Only from then do you start to earn money for yourself.

Each year, the Adam Smith Institute calculates the date, which we call Tax Freedom Day.

It gets worse. If you include the cost of borrowing, which future taxpayers will have to pick up, the burden is another ten days' hard labour.

Chancellor for a day

Written by | Wednesday 27 April 2005

Recently I was asked what I would do if I were made Chancellor for a day. The first thing, obviously, is to introduce the Flat Tax – as around a dozen countries already have done, including four EU members. Everyone would pay the same rate – around 22%.

Doesn’t that just help the rich and leave a big hole in the public finances? Well, no. As Britain and America have found after tax cuts in the past – under Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan, and Thatcher – the rich end up paying more. When taxes are low, there is less point in avoiding or evading them, or moving abroad.

Liberate Europe from regulatory excess

Written by | Monday 14 March 2005

Politicians across the European Union claim to be in favour of cutting red tape. Nevertheless, the regulatory burden on business and citizens alike continues to grow. At the latest count, the acquis communautaire, the accumulated EU rule-book, ran to 16,000 pages.

In our new Adam Smith Institute study, we set out a "road map" which explains how policymakers can begin to cull the mounting stack of regulatory rules, both across the EU and within member states

Why the case for a flat-tax is irresistible

Written by | Thursday 17 February 2005

It works on two levels. The single rate is set sufficiently low that
compliance shoots up. It is less worthwhile to avoid tax by complicated
tax shelters and less worthwhile to evade it by criminal failure to
declare income. The second effect is that the low rate increases the
reward of extra effort and risk-taking. Since people can now keep a
higher proportion of what they earn, extra earning becomes more

A Tartan (Flat) Tax?

Written by | Tuesday 7 December 2004

Like all of us, Gordon Brown is struggling to make ends meet. Public spending has skyrocketed, but tax receipts - though up 7% - are well below his optimistic ambitions. He needs to spend less (fat chance!), or raise more money.

But New Labour knows tax is unpopular, and has pegged income-tax rates. The media have rumbled his stealth-tax scams. So what can he do?

The mother of all privatizations

Written by | Sunday 28 November 2004

Exactly 20 years ago this week, 2.4m Britons scrambled to buy shares in the state-owned telephone company, British Telecom (BT), before it was floated on the stock market. At almost £4bn, it was the biggest stock market sale in history.

It gave the world the concept of mass-market privatization. It bristled with marketing innovations. It sparked a revolution in share ownership. It heartened the government to privatise more. And it provided a model from which many other countries, including ex-communist ones, were happy to borrow.


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