Tag Archives: star trek

Opinion: a reboot worked for Star Trek. It can work for the Lib Dems too

The BBC handed out more negative adjectives, including “collapsed”, “destroyed” and “drubbing”, to our losses (ignoring the gains and holds) on May 5th than Simon Cowell does on the X-Factor, so really we can leave other people to castigate the party and Nick Clegg, and we should get on with being honest about what happened and being focused on where to go next.

Whilst I’m going to present this piece in a positive manner, it in no way diminishes my understanding of how badly we were flushed on May 5th, just I feel there is no point wallowing in it continuously. …

Posted in Op-eds | 13 Comments

Office of Tax Simplification quotes Star Trek and recommends ending relief for a tax rule that no longer exists

At the time the Conservatives announced their plans for an Office of Tax Simplification it looked to me like a good exception to the general policy of cutting quangoes. Its major report into tax reliefs looks to have justified that belief – because the Office of Tax Simplification has discovered that far more tax reliefs exist than it was expecting.

Yup, you read that right – that tax system is so complicated it turned out to be even more complicated than people who already thought it was complicated expected. Or in its language:

We found 1,042 reliefs,allowances and exemptions; far more than any of our initial estimates.

The OTS’s report also has the distinction of starting its foreword with a quote from Star Trek, even if by Chapter 1 it is back on to more familiar tax quotation grounds with William Gladstone.

The big stories from the review are:

During the review, a number of key themes have emerged:

  • Merging income tax and NIC – this is a long term project of structural reform thatwould deliver major simplification;
  • Employee benefits and expenses – The longer term aim would be to align the treatment of employee benefits, with shorter term aims of simplifying many minorbenefits with a de minimis limit of £100/£500, or amending the current £8,500threshold;
  • Inheritance tax and trusts – the reliefs for inheritance tax are integral to the policyand we consider that a more appropriate approach would be to review the tax as a whole;
  • Capital gains tax, particularly as applicable to companies –the capital gains systems for individuals and companies have drifted apart, with gains by individuals taxed at a lower rate than income to reflect inflation, whereas companies are still required to calculate indexation. Our aim would be to realign the treatments and simplify the tax, but as there are changes in relation to corporate capital gains expected in Finance Bill 2011, this is clearly a longer term project; and
  • Environmental taxes –Both landfill tax and aggregates levy should be reviewed, as both regimes contain basic charging provisions with numerous exemptions and it may be more appropriate to define what is caught rather than what is excluded.

In amongst the details are some great examples of just how much parts of the tax system is in need of simplification, such as the continuing tax break on the first 15pence (yes, pence) of the value of a luncheon voucher given by an employer to staff. As the review says,

The value of this relief has eroded since its introduction in 1946 and is outweighed by the time and cost in providing it.

My favourite, however, is the discovery that there is still a tax relief on the books for a tax rule that no longer exists:

Certain specified and certified instruments were exempt from £5 fixed stamp duty. As the fixed rate of duty was abolished in 2008, the policy rationale is no longer relevant and the relief  has no current application.

Yorkshire drinkers of obscure beer may wish to check section 4.37.

Office of Tax Simplication – Review of Tax Reliefs

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 14 June 2009

Welcome to the Sunday outing for The Voice’s Daily View series. As it’s a Sunday, today it comes with a bonus complaint and the easiest quiz question of the week.

2 Big Stories

Could Alan Johnson scrap ID cards?

Gordon Brown’s weakness means there is a set of senior Cabinet members who are now unsackable. If any of them were to take it upon themselves to indulge in a very un-Brownian desire to do something dramatic and decisive, it would be extremely hard for Gordon Brown to stop them.

Step forward then possibly, perhaps, just maybe Alan Johnson. (He is, after all, one of those who hasn’t acted dramatically or decisively to get Gordon Brown ousted.) The Sunday Times reports:

ALAN JOHNSON, the home secretary, has launched an urgent review of the £6 billion identity card (ID) scheme, paving the way for a possible U-turn on one of Labour’s flagship policies.

Johnson, who was promoted in Gordon Brown’s latest cabinet reshuffle, is understood to be “sympathetic” to critics who claim identity cards will undermine civil liberties.

The home secretary told officials that he wanted a “first principles” rethink of the plan, which was launched by Tony Blair following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and has since been championed by Brown as a way of fighting terrorism.

“Alan is more sympathetic to the civil liberties arguments than previous home secretaries,” said an insider.

The Iranian elections

Although Lebanon’s recent elections saw a decisive victory for moderates, the official results from Iran show a landslide for the hardliners. These results have been disputed, but as so often the mainstream media coverage amounts to little more than “X says the elections were rigged, Y says they weren’t”, with little evidence presented to let you make a decision about who you think is telling the truth.

Step forward the online world, where there is much detailed argument available, including this blog post which – combined with the comments posted to it – gives a good flavour of the cases for and against the election results having been rigged.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

If David Cameron believes in first past the post, he should quit his job
From Mark Reckons:

David Cameron has spent a lot of time in the last few weeks talking about how great the First Past the Post electoral system is. He will not countenance any change from this even though MPs can end up elected with often much less than 50% of the vote in their own constituency.

What I find fascinating about this is that if you follow his line of reasoning to its logical conclusion then David Cameron should not be leader of the Conservative party at all. Instead it should be David Davis … if this had been a First Past the Post election then David Davis would have been elected leader.

Twitter and politics
Euro-candidate and journalist Jonathan Fryer muses over the impact of Twitter:

Though a comparatively late convert to the practice (despite the proselytising of my friend, Stephen Fry), I’ve been finding it hugely useful in recent weeks and have noted how one can enter into dialogue with politicians of other parties as well as with journalists and bloggers of all persuasions, who are quite happy to ‘follow’ one on Twitter, but who might not wish to ask or accept to be one’s Facebook ‘friend’, in case that were seen to be some kind of endorsement.

Sunday Bonus

Don’t these US movie moguls have any respect for our heritage?

The latest Star Trek movie just isn’t right:

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , and | 1 Comment
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  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 22nd Oct - 12:55pm
    After Industry (thank you, Peter Martin), poorly skilled people will have no productive platform anymore to earn a dignified living. Without complementary physical capital, the...
  • User AvatarPaul Holmes 22nd Oct - 12:54pm
    Interestingly I recall meetings where Mark Oaten, our then Shadow Home Secretary and later his successor in that role, one Nick Clegg, proposed that those...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 22nd Oct - 12:42pm
    Reading that very helpful link you included, George, what Phillip Lee was talking about does not seem like what is normally referred to as “forced...
  • User AvatarGeorge Potter 22nd Oct - 12:28pm
    Also, it is frankly ludicrous to suggest that, just because the BMA haven't withdrawn a doctor's license to practice over a political stance, the political...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 22nd Oct - 12:27pm
    Many thanks George
  • User AvatarGeorge Potter 22nd Oct - 12:15pm
    Paul, I think you'll find that my most recent comment was around 5pm yesterday, therefore it is significantly less than 24 hours - and quite...