Wednesday, November 16

£ 57 billion per year in more tax.

Over the past eight years Chancellor Gordon Brown's fiscal policy has been simple: increase taxes but don't tell anyone.

One of New Labour's faults (they would argue strengths) is that it denies (very effectively) being what it really is: a redistribute socialist government.

In the tax-year 1996-97, the year before Labour came to power, Britons handed over £190 billion to the Government in total from taxes and duties.

Last year, they paid £ 285 billion an increase of 50 per cent. These figures were released from HM Treasury in Whitehall last week. If tax revenues had simply risen in line with inflation, the figure for 2004-05 should have been no more than £228, billion. In very real terms Britons are paying an extra £ 57 billion in taxes and mostly dont know it.

A typical family in the UK today with one earner on £40,000 a year paid a little over a third of its income in tax in 1997. Today it pays as much as half.

This increase has happened by stealth over the past seven years. Gordon Brown has used a subtle tweaking of Britains complex tax system - introducing new bands, new taxes and manipulating allowances and thresholds.

The reason for the hype in the amount of tax collected is to pay for the massive increase in public sector activity, this must be questioned in the public domain much more than it is. Tens of billions of pounds of tax payers money is being wasted on a buy EU not US defence procurement policy, for example. For many years there has been a strong assumption that higher taxes means better public services, that can no longer be believed by anyone but Guardian readers.

Those with long political memories will recall that Mr Blair before the 1997 election said ''that he had no plans to raise tax at all''. Well if he did not, Mr Brown clearly did.

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