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Last Updated: Friday, 12 March 2004, 17:01 GMT
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Your comments on the Truth about tax programme.

Due to the high number of e-mails we get we cannot guarantee to publish every single message we receive. We may also edit some e-mails for legal reasons and for purposes of clarity and length.

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I think there should be a continuously variable income tax rate. It would be negative for low incomes and cross through zero at around 7000 pa. It should be at about 25% for the average wage and rise to about 60% for personal incomes of 2,000,000. The slope and shape of the master curve could be set annually by the chancellor, while the IR could make slight adjustments for individual circumstances.
Dave Glover, Leicestershire, England

I thought your programme tonight was good. However why was stamp duty "tax" not mentioned? I do not have a particular axe to grind, but know (as we all do!) that this particular "fund raiser" is pretty good as at 14th March 2004! If the property market declines as it may well do..., this will reduce your "stunt double's" income by a huge amount!! Perhaps "food" for another Panorama programme.
Nick Bolt, UK

How is it that the poorest people actually spend a higher proportion of their income on tax?
Alistair Halton, Lancs
Interested in the programme this evening. With stealth taxes rising on pensions, ISAs, Peps where you can no longer reclaim with-holding tax, on top of insurance premium tax, rises in National Insurance and the reduction (in real terms) of allowances, the fact that many people are incapable of understanding tax credits and do not claim them. This government is draining the economy. What I do not understand is why you did not go into more detail of wasted taxes which are due to more bureaucracy, red tape and more layers of administrators and regulators, along with the European parliament, Scottish parliament - now over budget by over 350 million or more, Welsh assembly, 28,000 more administrators in the health service.

Is it not time to see some real common sense come into play? Get rid of the excess administrators and tax collectors, licences for virtually everything from marriage to radio licences, dog licences, game licences, gun licences. I could but I won't keep typing them here, but I am sure you get my drift. I have been told that I am cynical, however I seriously believe we have communism (if you can't own it, regulate it) through the back door and this government is not honest at all.
Rod Leonard, Hull

Every reasonable and sane person accepts that they must pay taxes and that these must be set at a level which enable the standard of services which people demand to be delivered.

The central problem is that governments are seen by tax payers to be wasting billions of pounds and then attempting to claw in more tax without taking into account the ever increasing cost of living. This causes people to be sensitive to tax, especially so when they see a government taxing pensions and stating their intention to tax them beyond their means to the very end.
Jonathan Cook, Heathfield, UK

Your programme had more whitewash than Hutton. How can you have a programme entitled 'The Truth about Tax' and not even explore or discuss tax evasion which costs the treasury billions every year? What about the fact that big business now pays much less of a percentage of GDP than ever. What about the fact that Gordon Brown floats around Europe boasting how little businesses pay in tax compared to other EU countries. Why didn't the intrepid Mr Davies ask the esteemed politicians why the poor paid a greater percentage of their income than the rich? The 'Truth about Tax'. Pull the other one.
Dennis Little, Torquay, Devon

The programme was interesting but I think it had two main problems.

1. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq weren't even mentioned. How much have they contributed to the budget deficit?

2. The programme was very thin on facts and figures. The "tax facts" while interesting were presented as a silly graphic and not elaborated on. How is it that the poorest people actually spend a higher proportion of their income on tax? If less than a third of the government's revenue is through income tax where does it come from and how much extra revenue would a penny on income tax create?
Alistair Halton, Horwich, Bolton, Lancs

The government should hit the self-employed so they pay a fair amount of income tax. I pay about 400 a month in income tax but I know self-employed people who earn more than me but pay a lot less in income tax and National Insurance. Some pay less than half what I pay. Is that fair?
Bill, London

I was very disappointed. We were promised the truth about tax but we were given a load of mushy unspecific information. Why were we not shown graphs of how the national tax level as a proportion of GNP has varied. Why no distributions of what our tax is spent on? We were not even told what was the biggest spend area.

To call the programme 'the truth about tax' was incorrect. Mr Blair's government gives us more information than this programme. Panorama normally has a reputation as a factual programme. This week's issue was poor and sub standard.
Richard Dickson, Bath, Somerset

Why not just have the three main parties come to an agreement that Income Tax will rise by a minimum of say 2%. That will eliminate the "a party that raises income tax will not win an election". This would apply to other taxes as well. Tax really needs to be out of the politicians' hands
Dave, London, UK

Congratulations to the team which produced the tax programme tonight. Despite the gimmicks, Evan Davies covered the ground. It was understandable and must frighten the incumbent at No11 to see the 'smoke & mirrors' evaporating.
Peter Sketchley, England

We have no real idea how much tax we pay and how it is spent. In the "old days" companies were obliged to produce a statement of "source and application of funds" which explained where its money came from and what it was spent on. Perhaps we should re-introduce this practice into taxation (both central and local) and start giving some visibility to whether we are getting what we expect at a reasonable cost.
Paul Luper, Reading, England

Thanks for the dumbed down version of the programme. Now please can you commission a proper one.
Michael Starling, Southsea Hampshire

I was very disappointed by the programme tonight on taxation. I felt that it lacked balance and unfairly relied on ministerial promises two elections ago not to increase taxes. It focussed too much on the middle income groups with a weak acknowledgement of the lower paid and gave no attention to the higher income groups who benefited massively from taxation relief.

Further it paid no attention to tax avoidance and the leaking bucket that is VAT so widely exploited by small businesses "-----but for cash----"! I so much want to see Panorama regain the ground and the time slot it used to have - but I'm afraid that this quality of treatment will not bring these hopes to fruition.
Michael Feeley, England

An excellent programme.. but will you follow it up with a full dissection and analysis of the tax proposals being put forward by each of the political parties? Your programme showed how misleading information about tax proposals had persuaded voters to swing in the past, so a proper analysis in the run-up to the next general election would be a worthwhile service to us all.

I also noticed how you allowed comment from Oliver Letwin, and how he believed he could do better than the last Tory government... but he didn't justify his claim and you didn't challenge him to do so. It would have been far more illuminating to have analysed what the Lib Dems have said about tax proposals and why they take a quite different approach.
Peter Tyzack, South Gloucestershire

This programme was 'dumbing down' at its worst. The BBC should be ashamed that its flagship current affairs programme replaced serious analysis, even in accessible form, with unrelated video footage, a 'Gordon Brown lookalike', and longer interviews with a random family than with the nation's foremost experts on the tax system. A 'door to number 11 Downing Street' teleporting around the country is not helpful; Evan Davies gurning is not informative.

Why did the programme not show any of: the share of national income taken in tax, and spent, over time; the relative sizes of different taxes; what the taxes are spent on; any indication of EXPERT opinions on either how much Gordon would have to raise taxes to meet his rules, or how he is likely to do this (freezing the bands, obviously); how different sections of the population (e.g. rich vs. poor) have been affected by Labour tax changes... etc.
Stephen, London, England

I think that tonight's Panorama did not mention once the real problem with tax in the U.K. - that is the huge sum GIVEN to the E.U.! Without this burden - i.e. if we, sensibly, withdrew from this outrageous and expensive club we would have no problem whatsoever! It seems most of our politicians are completely mad and all those afflicted should be charged with treason and the death penalty imposed forthwith.
John William Burley, Dawlish, Devon, England

Thank you for such an informative production, very relevant for economic geography revision for degree. Being 19 and not had a chance to vote in a national election, it was great to be enlightened about the tangle that tax provides our society. It makes me wonder, why leave education? But then, taxes are not covering that anymore thanks to the tuition fees vote. As much as people moan about students we get hit the hardest, as VAT is on everything we consume. So we are not the bums that we are made out to be, and contribute greatly to our regional economy because we spend. So Gordie should encourage spending and then he can spend.
Rebecca Deab, Sheffield, UK

It would be helpful if the program distinguished clearly between direct and indirect taxation instead of a blanket tax approach.
Noel Holt, Bolton, Lancashire

Panorama used to be quite good, but now it seems to be made for dummies. The same sentence must have been rephrased in 30 different ways through the programme rather than going deeper into the statistics that were flashed so quickly on the screen and not analysed at all. Quite disappointing for an interesting subject that affects us all.
Paul King, Cambridge, UK

Great perspectives on the programme. What I feel was missed was the fact that the government spends pots of money on rather futile and often unrelated topics like:
1) The unjustifiable WMD story
2) 1m refugees entering the UK every year
At times like these, surely we should be spending UK taxpayers' money on pertinent UK related needs?
Richard Berends, Basingstoke, Hants



SEE ALSO
The truth about tax
01 Mar 04 |  Panorama
Tax: the taboo subject
14 Mar 04 |  Panorama


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