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This week's opinion: 9 May 2024

07 May 2024 / Andrew Hubbard
Issue: 4935 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
Debate about tax issues must be civil

The chancellor’s comment about the possibility of the abolition of National Insurance continues to resonate. The opposition have seized upon it and are now saying that it represents an ‘unfunded tax cut which puts the state pension at risk’.

It is worth recalling what Mr Hunt said: ‘Because we believe that the double taxation of work is unfair. Our long-term ambition is to end this unfairness. When it is responsible, when it can be achieved without increasing borrowing and when it can be delivered without compromising high quality public services, we will continue to cut National Insurance as we have done today so we truly make work pay.’

But it is not all one way traffic. Readers may have seen the headline ‘Labour tax tsar’ called the National Insurance exemption for ‘codger’ pensioners a ‘disgrace’. This relates to comments made by Edward Troup – who I am sure would be surprised to see him described as a Labour tax tsar – made in 2019 about the National Insurance exemption for pensioners. Speaking as an old codger myself I understand where he was coming from on this but, even if you don’t agree, it is surely a legitimate argument to put forward. For it to be described by a Conservative spokesman as ‘betraying a dislike of older voters as a whole’ is, to put it mildly, a significant distortion.

I make these observations not to make any political points but to illustrate how difficult it is to conduct reasonable and rational debate on an important aspect of the tax system. Perhaps I am being naïve in hoping that we conduct discussion on tax matters in a serious and considered fashion but surely we can do better than this.

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Issue: 4935 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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