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Abolishing non-dom status should just be the beginning

It’s not true that there’s no money left. Politicians are simply refusing to tax extreme wealth properly.

By Guy Singh-Watson

It’s always good to see decent policy proposals poking their head above the political parapet in time for a Budget. The rumour that the non-dom status will be abolished by the Chancellor in today’s announcements is certainly welcome. It’s something many sensible economists and groups have been promoting for the last 12 months and could raise £3bn for the country. So seeing it floated as an option for both major political parties is certainly a nod to the right kind of change. But, more worryingly, this proposal feels so welcome because it feels like such an anomaly.

The chatter that dominates our newspapers and political corridors is about tax and spending cuts. Why is it that, in a country that consistently ranks the lowest for investment in the G7; where school buildings are falling down around our children; where waiting times extend into months for our beleaguered GP surgeries; victims of crime are facing a decade-long backlog through our judicial system; and where the lack of investment in green technologies means there’s little chance of us making economic hay – or jobs – for the future, our main political choices are U-turns on investment commitments, or tax cuts built on the back of further cuts to schools and hospitals? 

I feel multiple negative emotions when it comes to political leadership in this country. As someone with money, who’s been lobbying alongside others as part of Patriotic Millionaires, for all political parties for years on the need to raise my taxes to support public investment and infrastructure, I’m flummoxed by the lack of political energy to take me up on the offer. This country deserves investment. And what better or simpler way to do it than through taxing the very richest? 

While there are a few supportive politicians, we need a lot more to pick up this simple solution and fight for a better Britain. We need politicians with the spirit to be economic entrepreneurs and who are hungry to do their duty, yet all we seem to get is political game-playing. As an entrepreneur I know a bit about what it takes to be successful and it’s not rocket science, nor is it any kind of game – success comes from a good idea, capital and dogged commitment.

We already have a lot of what is needed to succeed. We have the ultimate good idea, of a thriving and prosperous country. It’s something that we all agree on. We all want good jobs, a satisfied workforce, good schools for our kids, a world-leading health service, and a strong, sustainable economy. Our politicians seem to want this too. But when it comes to finding capital and commitment, their story is very different. 

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Political leaders talk of counting pennies and balancing the books on projections about fiscal headroom, but the reality is our country has plenty of capital. Equalising capital gains with income would raise £16bn every year. Closing pointless loopholes in inheritance tax that only benefit a handful of wealthy people would raise £1.4bn a year. Introducing a 2 per cent tax on people with more than £10m would raise £22bn a year. Who would this hurt? No one. Not someone like me, who would pay a lot more if these changes came into force. I’d still have plenty to make further private investments, enjoy a comfortable life, lovely holidays, and never have to worry about my kids or my grandkids. Capital gains are concentrated in the wealthiest parts of the country and only 3 per cent of people benefited from them in the decade to 2020. Only 4 per cent of people pay inheritance tax and the amount paid is less the richer you are. A 2 per cent tax on those with £10m or more would affect a mere 0.04 per cent of the population.

This kind of capital does not flow because we have too few politicians with the gumption to use it. And it’s not just wealthy people like me who feel like this. Seventy-five per cent of people polled by YouGov last year support the introduction of a wealth tax. We polled the richest 6 per cent of people in the UK and 68 per cent of them said they wanted a wealth tax. In a recent poll commissioned by the Fairness Foundation, 64 per cent of Britons (including 73 per cent of Conservative voters) support maintaining or increasing taxes. There seems to be overwhelming support for policies that run in the opposite direction to what is being proposed by our major parties.

The British people do not lack the drive, the idea, or the entrepreneurial spirit to make our country a success. And we don’t lack the capital. All that stands in our way is the lack of political commitment. It is unsurprising that trust and belief in democracy is suffering when simple solutions like increasing taxes on wealth, which would benefit millions of people, are neglected for reasons unknown. And it is shameful that what’s on offer instead are a series of policies that will make Britain smaller and weaker, rather than the successful country we can be. Every politician should feel it is their patriotic duty to use the resources we have as a nation, to ensure we are adequately investing now and for the future. Policies that unlock capital and increase taxes on the super rich, such as abolishing the non-dom status, should be the rule rather than the political exception.


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