Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Taxing questions!

I had a letter from the tax office this morning. Nothing unusual. Just the annual thing telling me what my tax code is for the coming year. No surprise there. Everything as expected.

On the back of one of the sheets of paper there is a pretty graph, a nice circular graph, in bright colours, telling me what my tax was spent on last year.

A quite large chunk on welfare and health - obviously not enough on health as the health service is in such disarray!

There is the tiniest, teeniest little bit labelled "UK contribution to the EU budget". If it's so small, why was there all that fuss about the supposedly vast amount of money we pay to Europe? Is somebody else paying more than I do? By more, I don't mean MORE actual money; I recognise that some people pay more tax than I do just because they earn more! No, I mean a greater percentage of their tax going to the EU. And, of course, I know that that is not the case. I am not so economically and fiscally challenged!

 It does strike me, however, that it would be nice to be able to contact someone and say that I don't want MY taxes to go to defence this year, or at least not so great a percentage of my tax. Please can they put more of it into education and/or culture. Cut out some of the government administration and put some more into housing and protecting the environment. I recognise that I might be straying into cloud cuckoo land!

And yet I am not the only one who thinks that way. There is, I hear, a movement in the USA encouraging people to withhold their taxes. Perfectly respectable people who have always paid their taxes on time are stating their intention to pay their city and state taxes but to withhold federal income tax "as a cry of civil disobedience against the president and his new administration". 

Apparently this was quite common during the time of the Vietnam War, as more and more people wanted their country out of that conflict. And even then it was not a new idea; it's a sporadic tradition that has been going on for centuries. Another form of protest and a non-violent one at that!

One of those I read about is an associate professor of English and History at a New York State university. He says,

"My tax money will be going towards putting up a wall on the Mexican border instead of helping sick people. It will contribute to the destruction of the environment and maybe more nuclear weapons. I think there will be a redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy elite and Trump’s campaign for the working man and woman was an absolute fraud. If you pay taxes you are implicated in the system."

There you go!

Some people are afraid that they might end up in prison if they don't pay their taxes but according to a campaign group that encourages such federal tax boycotts very few people have spent time in gaol for not paying taxes as an explicit act of political resistance. They are far more likely to be fined and charged interest on the unpaid tax. Presumably it's a good idea to keep the unpaid tax money on one side so that when the time is right and the political situation suits your way of thinking, you can get fiscally straight once again.

And so America appears to be getting deeper into chaos and craziness. Lies and deceit abound right in the inner circle! What will happen, I wonder, if the whole thing implodes? If the new administration were to fall apart totally and utterly and both president and vice-president were deemed unworthy of office, what would they do?

Would they recall Obama?

Interesting times!

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