Tuesday, 1 June 2010

In the Loophole

I have to say that I've been quite astonished to see the BBC joining in the attacks on Danny Alexander that have been initiated by two right wing non-doms.

Let's be quite clear here. Danny Alexander has done nothing wrong, so any mileage given to the story is clearly in the territory of smears. To see the BBC jump so enthusiastically on the Telegraph bandwagon leaves a bad taste in the mouth and is yet another example of what seems to be a growing trend on the BBC's part to make the news rather than just report it.

For the last decade I received tax relief at 40% on my personal pension contributions. I personally think it disgraceful that a 40% tax payer gets a bigger rebate than a person struggling on minimum wage. It is a loophole that needs to be stopped and Lib Dem policy to close it. So as a Lib Dem did I claim my rebate? Of course I did. Am I a hypocrite? No.

I may disagree with the rules and want to change them, but those are the rules. Using the same logic to apply to other tax rules should see me refusing to pay the extra tax which became liable when the 10% lower tax rate was abolished. I think council tax is morally bankrupt tax with no link to the ability to pay it and yet despite that I claim a 25% discount because those are the rules.

The simple truth is that they are called loopholes because they are legal otherwise it would be called evasion and it is not hypocritical to seek to change them whilst also claiming. If the media want to accuse people of evasion that's one thing, but a personal attack for doing something perfectly legal is quite another. How many journalists' tax affairs would stand up to these vindictive attacks?

I have no idea what the BBC are doing here other than trying to suck up to those who accuse them of being too left wing. It makes absolutely no journalistic sense for them to add any weight to this right wing vendetta. I can choose not to buy the Barclay brothers' squalid little rag. I have no such choice when it comes to boycotting the BBC.

Shame on them.


The Druid said...

Playing devil's advocate, Lord Ashcroft didnt break any rules.

I kind of agree with what you are saying. I dont think the media should be lynching Alexander - or Laws. But I think the change isnt so much at the BBC, it is the perspective of Lib Dem supporters who are now seeing their own in power. The media has always gone after those at the top. That is how it works.

Jonathan said...

Danny Alexander sold the property within 3 years of it becoming his second home. If you do that, the law says you don't pay any capital gains tax on it. That isn't doing some convoluted complicated transaction to avoid tax, that is just filling in his tax return correctly.

If he did declare a capital gains tax liability on the sale of his property, he would be guilty of making a false declaration on his return. Over-declaring income on a tax return is in many cases a more serious offence than under-declaration. People do this to defraud banks and investors.

The Druid said...

Right. So what we need is a firm definition for "convoluted complicated transaction" and then we have a nice, black and white issue.

Was said...

Lord Ashcroft promised that he would "normalise" his tax position when offered his peerage. What he actually did wrong was to break his promise.

I would also disagree that the media go for those at the top. They have always picked their targets depending om theior proprieters prejudices. David Cameron had dodgy mortgage payments which he offered to pay back but was not considered a valid target by the largely Tory press.

It is however a fair point that Lib Dems will be under greater scrutiny and need to deal with it instead of whinging.