David Blackburn

Darling: bankers’ super tax failed

Darling: bankers’ super tax failed
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Honesty is an attractive though rare quality in a politician, and Alistair Darling’s self-awareness and morose delivery always grabs attention. Last night, the former chancellor told a conference of bankers that the 50 percent levy on bonuses over £25,000 was a failure. The FT reports him saying:

‘I think it will be a one-off thing because, frankly, the very people you are after here are very good at getting out of these things and . . . will find all sorts of imaginative ways of avoiding it in the future… what I wanted to do was send a message to them that we all live in the same world together.’

levied annually

A tax might be intentioned to socially engineer, but it rarely succeeds. Duty on alcohol has not lessened Britain’s booze consumption and binge drinking habit. Duty on tobacco has not stopped people smoking – health concerns have. You can see where I am going with this…green taxes have not noticeably aided the environment – carbon emissions have not been cut and energy bills increase with demand.

But, with the regrettable exception of the marriage tax break, the government seems to have turned its back on manipulating the tax for social ends. The previous government coerced, Cameron’s government ‘nudges’.