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January 31, 2005

Are We Still a Free People II?

Anyone remember Hampden? Ship Money? The Civil War?  A great deal of blood and treasure was spent confirming the basic point that Parliament is supreme and as is so often the case in such matters, it was all about tax. Can the State levy arbitrary taxes? Or is taxation whatever Parliament says it is? The constitutional settlement reached, after we’d chopped the head off a King, was that taxes are what Parliament says they are, at the time it says it.
According to the 2005 Finance Act, this will no longer be the case:

The Inland Revenue's new powers to tax workers retrospectively, without recourse to Parliament or the courts, could leave thousands of taxpayers facing bills they did not know about.
The move, which would sweep away centuries of legal precedent going back to the Magna Carta, would enable the Revenue to act unilaterally in deciding whether someone has paid the "proper" amount of tax.

John Whiting of PricewaterhouseCoopers said: "The statement fundamentally talks about a 'proper' amount of tax, but who's definition of 'proper'? We understand the frustration the Revenue has over avoidance schemes, but this is your classic slippery slope. We don't do retrospective taxation here. You are taxed on what it says in the law when you do the thing, not what someone decides later."

Anne Redston of accountants Ernst & Young said that if such a move were allowed it would "be the most fundamental shift in our tax system and liberty since the 1600s". She added: "Throughout our history, we have fought for the right for Parliament to decide on tax.

Yes, really, they’ve done it again, eviscerated one of the basic parts of our constitution. Parliament makes the laws, laws are what Parliament says they are. Not any more in our Nu Labour wonderland. Our Tone gets driven, every day, past the place where we executed the last person to be on the wrong side of this issue. Wonder if he ever thinks about that?

January 31, 2005 in Taxes | Permalink


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Tracked on Feb 2, 2005 2:34:54 AM


Of course he has, that is why the Government repealed 1795 Treason Act in 1998. Under that Act, it was treason to destroy the constitution.

Posted by: Alex Dakers | Jan 31, 2005 10:25:38 AM

By the way, yesterday was the anniversary of that Regicide

Posted by: Alex Dakers | Jan 31, 2005 10:28:06 AM

Sad day, by the way - that it ended up with Regicide (not to mention poor old Archbishop Laud, without whom the CofE was never as good as it could've been).

Reading this makes me want to find out more about this points system the Australians have for immigration... And maybe use it.

Posted by: Blimpish | Jan 31, 2005 1:35:05 PM

"but who's definition of 'proper'?"

Appalling grammatical error from the Torygraph.

Posted by: yellerKat | Jan 31, 2005 2:33:38 PM