Thursday, November 22, 2007


Earlier this year Scottish showbiz celeb Elaine C. Smith followed Michael Moore's example of criticising big business fat-cats for making huge profits but don't gift part of them to their workers.
Now, in her column in the Sunday Mail (15th November), she echoes Moore's complaint about the rich who avoid paying tax and singles out Grand Prix driver Lewis Hamilton for leaving Britain to do likewise. Elaine wants Hamilton and his like to make deals with the Inland Revenue which would allow them to pay, for example, say £3million instead of £10million and everybody would be happy.
Elaine hasn't noticed that this already happens: for instance, there's Al Fayed, owner of Harrod's, London's poshest department store, who for years had a deal with the Inland Revenue which allowed him and his whole family to pay almost no tax at all.
Another thing Elaine seems not to have noticed is that it isn't only the rich who avoid paying tax. Countless thousands of workers also do this without leaving Britain by using numerous dodges, legal and illegal, and vast numbers of cars and other vehicles on the road are untaxed, it's what capitalism drives people to do. Incidentally, Elaine is a supporter, maybe even a member, of the Scottish National Party as is Sean Connery who will live anywhere but Scotland to avoid paying tax here. Has Elaine complained about this to the SNP?
All of this raises the question, should workers concern themselves about tax anyway? We share Karl Marx's view that taxation is an issue for the capitalist class only, and its various sections constantly quarrel over which of them should bear the heavier burden. It is they who ultimately have to pay workers' tax bills as well as all their other bills by paying them their wages and salaries.
How does this work: When the workers cost of living rises, let's say through more tax, this cuts their take-home pay which is their real wages and salaries. Their response will be to put pressure on employers, mainly through trade unions, to make good the loss. Of course, whether they succeed or not will depend on circumstances such as their determination, the state of the economy and the labour market, but history shows that when the cost of living increases then wages and salaries inevitably follow.
History also shows that whether tax is high or low the workers always have to struggle. This even applied when most workers in Britain paid no tax at all. Prior to World War Two most British workers didn't pay tax because their income was too low yet their standard of living was just as bad. They only began paying tax in 1941 when the government introduced Pay as You Earn in order to claw-back some of the extra cash many workers were earning because of scarcity of labour and war work.So tax isn't the big problem that many workers imagine it is. What ALL workers Should be aiming at is getting rid of capitalism. along with all its paraphernalia of money, Prices, pensions, doles, taxes, etc., and replace it with a wordwide society of production for use based on common ownership and democratic control. That's what we're after, what about you? V.V.

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

"...If all taxes which bear on the working class were abolished root and branch, the necessary consequence would be the reduction of wages by the whole amount of taxes which today goes into them..."
Karl Marx Moralising Criticism and Critical Morality 1847