Lincoln Book Festival

Lincoln Book Festival
2017 Festival Programme

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Those tax returns and what really matters

One of the first things I was ever taught was to come clean. It is painful, but it is the best policy overall. Yet we all fail to do it from time to time; we are human and so are politicians.

The tax return revelations are not about this. They are not about how much a Prime Minister gets paid (this is decided by Parliament) nor about whether parents may give money to their children. The chilling figure is the rental income for just a quite a nice house in London. This rental is set by the market by reference to the sorts of prices people are willing to pay for houses in London. This figure is set by the super rich who are happy to pay ever increasing amounts for the very expensive properties whose values will go on rising so long as the super rich believe they will.  Where have we heard that before?

It is the amount of wealth held by the super rich which they put into real estate and which therefore has no benefit whatsoever to the economy - that is the issue that politicians should be shouting about and that newspapers and the other media should be probing. It is that issue that is causing hardship to the worse off in society and preventing ordinary people from owning their own home. Adair Turner has written with great brilliance on this. The fact that the super rich make their investments via tax havens only compounds the problems.

So, stop hounding middle rich politicians and go for the real culprits.

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