The Next Ten Years in British Social and Economic Policy

By G. D. H. Cole | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
THE LABOUR BUDGET—DEBT AND TAXATION

Changing attitude towards the problem of taxation—Taxation as an instrument for the redistribution of income—The level of taxation before and after the War—The growth of national expenditure analysed—How the national revenue is raised—The National Debt—The problem of debt conversion—Repudiation impossible—The Capital Levy—The Colwyn Report and the proposed surtax—The Sinking Fund—The case for its suspension—The American debt—The Socialist way of wiping off the debt—The taxation of inheritance—The Death Duties—The Rignano Scheme—Dr. Dalton's proposals—A plan for the abolition of inheritance —The case of landed estates—Income tax and surtax—Suggested revision of the taxes on incomes—Customs and Excise—The incidence of indirect taxation—The liquor taxes—Tobacco—Sugar and Tea—Other indirect taxes—Protective duties and their yield—Prohibition of imports preferable to a tariff—Repeat of protective duties—Socialism and Free Trade contrasted—Luxury taxes—The effect of the proposed changes in taxation as a whole.

Of all the Ministers in the next Labour Government, it is obvious that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have by far the most difficult task. Other departments spend money: he has to provide for raising it. And no matter how excellent are the uses to which the tax revenue of the country is put, no one enjoys paying taxes. Moreover, as we have seen, it is not easy, under the present economic system, to tax the luxury expenditure of the rich without at the same time affecting their willingness to provide out of 'saving' the new capital which is urgently needed for the work of national development. The rich spender hides behind the rich saver, and defies the efforts of the tax-gatherer to sequestrate his unproductive surplus. His power to do this can be counteracted if the right measures are taken; but the need to counteract them makes the problem harder and more complicated than many Socialists admit.

-365-

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