Monday, January 12, 2009

A tax-related daydream

Having just posted a pretty large cheque to HM Revenue & Customs, I started thinking about what my cash would actually be used for. One of the long-standing obsessions of policy wonks and politicos is the idea of so-called "hypothecated" taxation, where a particular portion of our contributions is earmarked for specific things. In other words, we might be asked to pay an extra penny in the pound, but would know that it was ringfenced for schools and it couldn't be spent on anything else. Under this kind of system, people get an idea of where their money's gone. As a result - so the argument goes - they feel better about paying it.

I wonder whether we could go further?

What if everyone got a personalised statement of where their individual money had been spent? A bit like when charities tell you that your donation has paid for two donkeys to be rescued from a meat trader and transported to a sanctuary.

Dear Mr Woodford

Thank you very much for your kind contribution to HM Government. You will be pleased to hear that your tax has been making a real difference. So far, it's bought 25 Christmas dinners for soldiers serving in Helmand Province, funded a personnel survey at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and paid for the distribution of 260 bottles of Dettol to NHS wards with the MRSA superbug. If you have any ideas what to do with the remaining £2.54, please let us know.

Yours sincerely...

1 comment:

  1. More likely to read: "This year, your entire contribution has been lost as the result of massive overspend on an IT project that has since been shelved. Sorry for the enormous waste of your time."