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Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
The tax question - to cut or not to cut?

What you pay in your tax bills has already become the central battleground in this election with the parties standing on very different platforms on this contentious area.

The Conservatives promised an 8bn cut in taxes in their manifesto, but are now facing questions after a report in Monday's Financial Times (FT) said that the total could reach 20bn by the end of the next parliament. William Hague insisted the figure was still 8bn.

Labour's Chancellor Gordon Brown said this showed the Conservatives were "incoherent and irresponsible" on tax and the Liberal Democrats said it showed their policy was a "shambles".

Labour is expected to promise no income tax rises in its manifesto, and the Liberal Democrats want a one penny rise in the basic rate to pay for education.

"Read my lips" became a tax campaign slogan in George Bush senior's election campaign in America. Who do you believe in this latest twist on tax in this election battle?

Have Your Say


The tragedy of the last 20 years is that taxation has increasingly fallen on the poor

Neil Rogall, London
We need to return to a graduated income tax with the principle that those who are wealthy (i.e. over 70,000 pa) pay a higher percentage of their income in tax. This would help fund the NHS, Education and the rest. The tragedy of the last 20 years is that taxation has increasingly fallen on the poor and those of average wage rather than on the wealthy and powerful who can afford to pay.
Neil Rogall, London, UK

People whinge endlessly about the tax burden in this country because in the 1980s we were encouraged to think that tax cuts were a win-win situation. This attitude has created a general disposition to feel like victims of an oppressive taxation system, rather than being self-serving individuals. We will get what we pay for and I would hope that it is self evident that we are not paying enough.
Matt Yates, Wakefield, UK

Why on earth should we pay more in taxes? We have paid through the nose under successive governments for less and less. All public services are declining and the idea of giving some elected politician more of our money to throw down the drain fills me with dread. When will the people of this country recognise that politicians and Governments create more problems than they solve and dont spend taxpayers money wisely? (Remember the Dome?). I for one don't want to pay a penny more. I'd much prefer to decide who gets my tax receipts then those in Westminster and the other new assemblies that have grown up like weeds in the garden. Let's stop the bloodsuckers before its too late!
Michael Keegan, London, UK

Why should it be so hard to cut 8bn from our tax bills? If Labour can rake in a tax surplus of billions each year then why not?
Chris Stanley, Liverpool, UK


All we seem to care about is what we can get

Mark, Hull, UK
We are apparently a Christian nation, yet all we seem to care about is what we can get. I seem to remember a couple of stories from Sunday school...
Mark, Hull, UK

A proposed annual tax cut of 8 billion or 20 billion has to be shared out amongst 60 million people. This works out at 36p or 91p per person per day. Can this be what all the fuss is about?
Sanjoy Sen, Aberdeen, Scotland

Is it possible to get a straight answer from a politician? Question: How many pennies on income tax would have to increase to ensure that all the public services could run efficiently. The police service, Health Service, Education etc etc, are demanding or requesting more money, equipment and staff. I don't wish to read a long answer, just say 2p, or 5p, or 13p, or 20p in the pound please. Perhaps they don't know?
Peter Istof, Cardiff, Wales


What is the incentive to work at and succeed at a career when you are left with barely enough to have a haircut or buy any clothes?

J McKenzie, London, England
The problems with raising taxes, be it national insurance, fuel, income etc, is that the people who are getting hit are those who are seen to be able to afford it. They may be in the upper echelons of pay compared to rest of the country but they still have mortgages and families to support. What is the incentive to work at and succeed at a career when you are left with barely enough to have a haircut or buy any clothes?

I am left with just over 200 cash a month. Guess what? I am moving abroad.
J McKenzie, London, England

IR35 (which has clobbered my business) should worry more than IT contractors. There is nothing stopping Mr Brown applying this pernicious and contradictory legislation to other groups in similar circumstances such as lawyers who operate their own practice. Hospital doctors on fixed term contracts as are a lot of media journalists. I could rant on for a long time about how unfair this tax is but now its in place, there is nothing to stop other groups being targeted, classic British divide and conquer tactics.
Ian Jones, Wallasey, UK


I always thought that the principle of "stealth" taxes was one of the cornerstones of Thatcherism

Keith, Cheltenham, UK
So William Hague goes on about stealth taxes. I presume he means taxes like the fuel tax escalator (brought in by the Tories & abolished by Labour), VAT on domestic fuel (brought in by the Tories & abolished by Labour), VAT on tampons (brought in by the Tories & abolished by Labour), abolition of MIRAS and Married Couple's Allowance (both 80% implemented by the Tories, 20% by Labour), VAT on petrol (introduced by the Tories), freezing the rate of Child Benefit (the Tories), and increasing the rate of VAT to 17.5% (yes, the Tories). I always thought that the principle of "stealth" taxes (or "indirect" taxes as they were known at the time) was one of the cornerstones of Thatcherism. Mr Hague should find some principles he truly believes in and stick to them, rather than jumping on every bandwagon going.
Keith, Cheltenham, UK

When taxation under the current Government is mentioned, people, especially those on the right of politics, forget to mention Interest rates on mortgages. The previous Tory government used interest rates as a "tax" on people in order to take the heat out of an economy ruined by them in the first place. I am currently 700 (8400 per annum) a month better off under the current government than I was under the previous one, if mortgage payments are taken into account. Beat that Hague/Portillo?
Andy Hill, Hertford UK


if we must pay more tax, let it fall on those, like me, who can afford it

Phil, London
Nurses & teachers have paid for the tax-cutting obsession of governments over the last 20 years, which is why both services are having a recruitment crisis. Low spending on the transport infrastructure (especially investment) has led to the rail crisis. It's a fairly obvious point that broadly what you pay for is what you get Only a fool would be in favour of wasteful spending (either in the private or public sectors), and if there was a magic way of eliminating this, then this would have been done years ago i.e. if we want improved public services, the main way to finance them is going to be via higher taxes. Both major parties are trying to con people otherwise If we want better public services (& we do!), we must pay more tax (& we should!) & if we must pay more tax, let it fall on those, like me, who can afford it.
Phil, London

The Tories promise to reduce taxes and keep to the same level of public spending on health and education. So why is it that during their 18 years of government they never managed it? All I can remember is a small reduction in tax whenever an election was due, followed by a much greater reduction in spending when they were voted back. What's so different about them this time?
Mike, Milton Keynes, UK

If you want to pay less tax on petrol, booze or fags, what do you want to pay more tax on? The British tax take is lower than that in most other European countries. Our public services are generally worse. Could there be some link here?
Ed Wilson, Stockport, UK


Any promises made to cut taxes now can easily be broken late

Stephen, Cambridge, UK
I think pre-election tax pledges are meaningless. Remember President George Bush's famous "Read my lips" pledge a few years ago. Any promises made to cut taxes now can easily be broken later on the grounds that circumstances have changed. I can only conclude that those who think the taxation burden in this country is too high have no direct experience of the health or education services, and have not seen from our European neighbours what a difference investment in public transport can make.
Stephen, Cambridge, UK

Everyone is deserving of relief from the oppressive taxation they are forced to endure at the hands of big spending governments. The Left in both Britain and America have made it quite clear that they hate the notion of allowing the citizenry to keep more of what they earn. My question is why? Tax cuts do not harm anyone. They only improve life for all involved. The citizen gets to keep more of what is rightfully his, businesses receive more revenue, thus providing government with a greater flow of tax money to provide for more programs. Tax cuts are a winning situation for Britain and America.
Andrew, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

For me the big issue is fuel taxation reduction. I am disabled and I rely on my car extensively for transportation, so I use a lot of petrol. Ten pounds is lucky to last me a day. I am on a low wage and I can't afford the repeated increase in fuel tax. When will it stop? I want a government that will stop trying to take my "legs" from under me by lowering tax on fuel to a fair amount. The motorist is not a fair target.
Peter Hunt, Chesterfield UK

Instead of the Tories giving tax cuts, why don't they take the 8bn they are going to save and pump it into Education, NHS & Pensions? I don't know anyone that actually wants tax cuts (Tory or Labour), they just want their money spent more prudently.
Nik Aves, Southsea, UK

I may be only 16 but I still have views on politics. Everyone is constantly talking about whether to cut taxes or keep them the same. I think that they should rise for all those who can afford. Someone with a 100,000 income will barely notice a loss of 5,000 or even 10,000 to the taxman while that could buy a hospital bed. If the idea of lowering taxes is going to win any votes for the Tories we have become a very selfish nation.
Charles Knox, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom


What on Earth is wrong with wanting to cut tax and public spending?

Bilal Patel, London, UK
What on Earth is wrong with wanting to cut tax and public spending? Why should we pay ever-increasing amounts of money to politicians? Do they have a God-given right to it? I think not. Politicians - especially socialist ones - should wake up. Perhaps if they spent some time in the real world of business they would not make such ludicrous demands from us.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

The tax issue is fairly simple. It's all about us the people being allowed to spend our money how we want rather than politicians spend it how they want. I'd trust the people over an over-taxing, over-spending Labour politician any day.
Neil Jones, Reading UK

Dictionary definitions: Left-wing - the most radical section of a political group. Why do I get the impression that the Labour party do not fall into this category?
Charles Knox, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

I would be quite happy to pay more tax as long as I was certain I would get politicians who told the truth, answer the question and actually do some work. Also, if they kept there promises of better health, education, welfare, transport and law and order. Not likely.
David Griffiths, Preston, UK


What a selfish lot some of you are!

Matthew Salter, UK
What a selfish lot some of you are! I am unmarried, have no children, and consider myself to be underpaid for what I do, but in all honesty, the amount of extra money I would pay in taxes if the public services were brought up to scratch is the sort of sum that you could spend over the weekend in the pub. I'm sick of hearing all this 'taxed to death' rubbish. No one is taxed to death. You may feel that you are not getting the services you want, and we should be vigilant as to where our tax money is spent for sure, but we also have to accept that if we want European style public services and welfare, we cannot have achieve it under a US-style tax system.
Matthew Salter, UK

It IS possible to cut taxes and make no cuts to public services. Consider this example. If public spending is 400 billion and the Labour government wants to increase spending by 4 per cent a year this is 16 billion a year. If the Conservatives increase spending by 3per cent, that is 12 billion a year. They have therefore still increased spending (i.e. no cuts) and have saved 4 billion a year so no need for as many tax rises (even tax cuts) as Labour. It is therefore possible.
Guy Atheton, Derby, UK

Tories intend to cut 8 billion of taxes. Labours claim it is 20 billion is a smoke screen to hide their vast increase in stealth taxes necessary to fund their criminal extravagance.
Barry Archer, Flitwick England

How can Labour and The Liberal Democrats claim that the Conservative figures don't add up when they both want to increase spending faster than the country can afford. After all what is 8bn of Tax cuts anyway? It is, as I understand around 1 per cent of GDP, which is nothing at all and easily affordable. Labour claims that the six pence cut in fuel duty offered by the Conservatives is not affordable without massive cuts to public services. It is quite clearly affordable, but what is not clear is how Labour plans to spend faster than the country can afford.
Phillip Porteous, Cumbria

The Tories failed to cut the burden of taxation over 18 years, so why should anybody believe that they can ever do so? True, they cut direct taxes for some people, but raised VAT, NI, fuel duty, borrowing and God knows what else to more or less compensate with devastating consequences for our public services. Talk about efficiency by all means, but please don't kid anybody that taxes can be significantly reduced in real terms for the majority of people.
Steve, UK


The real waste comes when we have to pay an ex-public company, Railtrack, a huge subsidy

Craig Tanswell, Epsom, UK
Surely just the example of our athletes at the last Olympics shows what can happen when at least a little bit of extra funding comes through. I don't know if the extra money that has gone into the public services has made much difference yet - I'm not stupid enough to expect instant improvements. The real waste comes when we have to pay an ex-public company, Railtrack, a huge subsidy which then gets paid out as a dividend to those rich enough to not need it. Thanks to the Tory legacy of selling off the country's assets to their cronies. Wake up people and demand tax increases...on the rich that can afford to, and should be, paying more (by the way I consider myself to be one of those!).
Craig Tanswell, Epsom, UK

We in the UK first need to decide exactly which services we want central Government to fund with our money and which things we all need to pay for ourselves. Only then can you have a sensible discussion about tax.
Paul R, Oxford, UK

Tax has gone up and public services are still crap. I would rather keep it thanks. But throwing money at problems is not the answer. Is giving each nurse 1000 pay rise going to make the NHS better? Of course it isn't. What services need is better management not more money to waste. I am sick of being taxed to death just because Labour think that if they say they will spend more I will vote for them.
Gareth, UK

It is disappointing to see that tinkering with tax has become one of the main fields in the battleground of this election. Surely the constitutional changes of a devolving Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the question of whether or not England joins the Euro and continues along the path of federal European integration will have a far greater impact on generations to come than whether or not a couple of pence are placed on or taken off income tax bands.
Alex Gibbs, England

There's loads of room for tax cuts. The only reason things have got this stable with the economy now, is because Labour have had to stick to the shrewd spending plans laid out by the last Conservative Government! If Labour get back into power, then within 5 years we will see huge government borrowing to pay for their spending spree, and God help the economy then! Guess what? You will certainly notice the far-from-stealth tax rises at that point!
Dan F, England

Being married with no children we are paying more tax under the current government than before. I think it should be the other way around. However selfish it may sound, those married without children should pay less tax. Sorry Mr Blair, you had my vote at the last election but you've well and truly lost it this time. Labour 0 Conservatives 1!
Trish Lewis, Southampton


When are we going to recognise the importance of stealth cutbacks, rather than just stealth taxes?

Jack de Metz, UK
When are we going to recognise the importance of stealth cutbacks, rather than just stealth taxes? The police force is again expected to have its budget reduced by two per cent this financial year. The Labour party is quick to point to increases in spending but cover up cutbacks across the entire public sector.
Jack de Metz, UK

Can any party balance the accounts when much needed teachers, police officers and doctors have to be increased? Where will sufficient money come from without a financial deficit? Will issues like banning fox hunting and saving the environment be tackled by any party too, a lot of the younger voters will be interested in the latter issues.
Mrs C S Chase, Portsmouth, England

Both Labour and the Tories are fundamentally dishonest about tax. It's amazing that anyone believes them anymore. When will people realise that if we want public services we have to pay tax. I would rather see the bulk of taxes levied from direct rather than indirect taxation. I would especially like to see the higher rate tax dramatically increased, and I speak as a higher rate taxpayer.
Richard Leeming, London, UK

I have a direct interest in the NHS as someone who has cancer. In my hospital department we seeing for the first time some real changes. The ward is being renovated. The private rooms used for bone marrow transplants are getting private facilities, years too late. And key specialists are now being hired, three extra consultants in one year. Our tax money is starting to make a difference.
Paul, Nottingham

Given their previous economic failings, this Labour Government has managed to run a sound economy while actually reducing the basic rate of income tax, yet at the same time, investing billions of pounds in public services. People should not be disappointed. More investment is needed in public services, but tax cuts, as proposed by the Tories would be disastrous.
John, Bristol, UK

The price of low direct taxation is high indirect taxation. The tax burden is actually 37% which is less than both Germany and France.
Paul Nash, UK


Tory tax cuts are fantasy island material

Derek Douglas, Dumfries
The Tory's spending cuts are without any common sense. They are hoping to save 1.5bn , I believe ,on reducing bureaucracy which means sacking Civil Servants. Can they tell us how many? At the same time they say they are going to save 2 billion on stopping fraud. As they will by then have sacked tens of thousands of Civil Servants, who do they think will find this money? The bottom line in all this is you simply cannot have your cake and eat it. To say they can fund public services and give senior policemen and headmasters (Michael Portillo quoted these as deserving cases) a tax cut is fantasy island material.
Derek Douglas, Dumfries

Labour and the Lib Dems say tax cuts would mean a reduction in public services, health, and education. Why do they never say that it would mean the amount given to scroungers and fraudsters in social security would be cut? Lots of people are fed up with single mums and asylum seekers getting more per week than a pensioner who may have paid into the system for 50 years. Knock 20-30bn off the 100bn social security fund and spend that on education, health and transport.
Neil, Oxford

"Tax on what we buy and not what we earn" was the phrase Thatcher used in the 80s. So why are so many people who support the Tories moaning about Labour? They've carried on stealth tax increases, cut the basic rate of income tax and continued Tory spending plans. No wonder they call Labour 'genetically modified Tories'!
Tom, Coventry

This government has raised the total tax take to 40% of GDP whilst presiding over a world economic boom with massively increased taxation receipts (also windfall taxes) and no improvement in public services, preferring to hold onto tax payers money so it can bribe them pre-election. It has introduced layers of complexity to the tax system to obfuscate the issue. It spins the claim that taxation has not gone up knowing full well that this is only true for income tax and that total tax has.
Mike, Harlow, England


We already pay more than adequate levels of tax

Frank, Edinburgh
It's painfully clear to me that we already pay more than adequate levels of tax. Sooner or later we will have to accept that we are not, as a nation, rich enough to provide all that we might want to. As for stealth taxes, surely they are, by their very nature, dishonest? Admit it folks, we are not rich enough to have it all - cut tax!
Frank W. Meaden, Edinburgh

I am tired of people implying that I don't need to keep the money that I earn because I am married without children. I am 27 years-old, with every intention of having children in the future. My husband and I are trying to set up a decent home and some rainy-day savings before we even think about starting a family. This government clobbers us with taxes at every move, yet showers irresponsible single parents with council homes, benefits and God knows what else - using our money. Does anyone seriously think this is fair?
Laura, UK

Might I suggest a way that the Tories can make their figures add up? A crackdown on those corporations and rich individuals that rip us all off by using loopholes in the law to avoid paying tax in this country. Perhaps they could start with their own treasurer.
Mick B, U.K.


All the Labour and Lib Dems want is to tax us more so they can waste more money.

Richard, Oxford
Why do so many people believe the spin from the Labour party? We are paying higher taxes and are getting worse services. When will people realise that we would spend OUR money much more wisely than any government can. All the Labour and Lib Dems want is to tax us more so they can waste more money. At least the Tories are going to give some of our money back. For everyone who says that they can cut taxes by 8bn without cutting public services, you should realise that total government spending is 400bn. Only about 160bn of that is on public services like health, education and policing, so there is plenty of room to cut taxes.
Richard, Oxford

For those fortunate enough to be independent of public spending, of course tax cuts are an election issue. However, for the rest of us increases in public expenditure and resultant taxation would be acceptable provided that education and the NHS were the direct beneficiaries. I would quite happily pay more tax to improve these essential services and, whilst money is not the solution to every problem, I believe that in these cases it could go a long way towards fixing what is wrong - historically appalling levels of staffing (related to poor pay and conditions) and general underfunding.
Kim Jauncey, Stirling, Scotland


The problem with tax in this country is that the rich don't pay anywhere near their fair share

Gina, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The problem with tax in this country is that the rich don't pay anywhere near their fair share, and then can afford to pay for services, such as private health care and schools that are denied the majority of us. And to anyone who thinks we should pay less tax, remember, it won't be the military budget that is cut, it will be social services that ordinary workers depend on.
Gina, Belfast, Northern Ireland

My income is so low I don't pay income tax. When I buy something though, I have to pay the same amount in tax as the UK's highest earner. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Unfair taxes eventually get their comeuppance (as Mrs Thatcher discovered). Mr Blair should bear that in mind.
Peter, Nelson, UK

Peter, are you seriously suggesting I should pay more for everyday items simply because I have an income and you don't? Should I fill out a means testing form every time I fill up my car? Should you get a discount on chocolate bars simply because you are apparently unable to earn 4500pa? I already pay five figure tax bills - I'm paying my way, and yours by the sounds of it.
Dave Tankard, UK

The general consensus here and elsewhere seems to be that what is required is a managed taxation system with up-front taxes and honest tax rates. People and businesses are sick to death with the dishonesty and complexity of stealth taxes. Both Labour and the Tories now have a proven record of tax mismanagement and of broken pledges not to raise taxes. Please be honest, give me the full (tax) bill, and don't mug me when I step outside.
John Bryan, Milton Keynes


Yes, I probably pay more taxes under Labour, but I'm still a lot better off financially

Colin, Chesterfield, England
Yes, I probably pay more taxes under Labour, but I'm still a lot better off financially. If you take tax and the economy/ interest rates together then each month I have more left to spend. Who would want to go back to 15% interest rates during the previous 18 years of Tory rule? I much rather pay more tax, get better services (it takes a long time to undo 18 years of underfunding), and have a stable economy and low interest rates.
Colin, Chesterfield, England

You can always tell when a politician is lying - their lips are moving.
Ed Bayley, Guttenberg, NJ, USA (English)

Since 1979 there has been a shift away from direct to indirect form of taxation, you can argue whether this is a good or a bad thing but basically the amount of tax taken from us has remained the same at around 40%. All parties lie, or at best, tell only part of the truth about their tax policies. Surely the time has come to accept that they will continue to take the same overall level of tax in whatever form, and to concentrate instead in holding them to account for the use they make of our money.
Alun Smith, Cheshire, UK


I applaud Charles Kennedy's attempts to be honest

Kath, Sheffield, UK
I don't trust politicians full stop, on tax or anything else. That said, I applaud Charles Kennedy's attempts to be honest. I am a reasonably high earner and would happily pay a few more pennies in the pound for better public services. Labour are being deliberately vague and the Tories have no credibility whatsoever as their maths doesn't add up. But many members of the public are short sighted and selfish and will vote for tax cuts - then moan when the old Tory cutbacks take their stranglehold.
Kath, Sheffield, UK

I am sure that most people remember the 15% interest rates we had during the second Tory recession of their 18 years in power. Do Hague, Portillo and co really think the British people are naive enough to swallow all this tax cut garbage? If we elect a Tory government we deserve everything we get.
Mike, Stratford upon Avon, UK


I just wish that the rest of the country could face some reality

Simon Devine, England
It's good to see that some people are waking up to what a left-wing government does almost without fail. That is, tax increases plus added bureaucracy and declining services. I just wish that the rest of the country could face some reality. My tax burden has increased by some 15%, yet I see no improvements around me. Anyone with half a brain cell should have seen this coming, like I did, so it's very worrying that not many people have woken up and smelt the coffee yet. Come on England, get rid of the taxation merchants, who just take and give nothing in the way of improvement in return except empty promises and abject lies.
Simon Devine, England

The problem with tax and election time is that whilst people may say that they want improved public services and are willing to pay extra in tax for them, they will in the privacy of the polling booth be wholly selfishly and vote by their pocket book and not their social conscience.
K. Rodgers, Liverpool, Merseyside


More taxes will mean more waste

Charles, London
Charles Kennedy denounces the Tory tax plans as a "cheap populist gimmick". I have no plans to vote Tory and I don't really care about their tax promises, but I think the "cheap populist" in this election in Charles Kennedy. What is more populist than raising taxes on the rich? Also, how can the supporters of the Liberal Democrats actually believe that more taxation will lead to more spending on public services? More taxes will mean more waste, nothing else. If any party would seriously confront the waste and inefficiency in government, there would be loads more money for public services.
Charles, London

So William Vague has thrown down the gauntlet to Labour on future tax rises. He says that the Tories will cut taxes, but when asked the question yesterday by a reporter on Sky News he refused to confirm that he would never increase taxes.
Ray Tyrell, Leeds, UK

It's about time the two major parties got over this ridiculous obsession with having to have the lowest taxes and go back to the days of nationalisation. I would certainly pay more to be in a better country than the one we're in at the moment.
James Pittman, England


We need local income tax, with local needs taking precedence

Liza Russell, Huntly, Scotland
I am a Headteacher in a small school, and I can see very clearly that this country now wants a First World education, but at a Fourth World price. Business is allowed to waste money freely in the form of expenses, new logos, new carpets, new anything, yet all public services are strangled. We need local income tax, with local needs taking precedence. Only what is left over should go to central taxation. That will mean higher taxation, but I do not think that is bad if it means ALL headteachers can give all the children in their school the best they can.
Liza Russell, Huntly, Scotland

Taxes should be cut. Governments are intrinsically not good at spending money wisely. More taxes equals more bureaucrats which equals more rules to justify their existence, which equals more taxes and more bureaucrats and so it goes on. Spending more money on public services will not of itself solve any problems, in fact it's likely to make them far worse as we have seen for many years.
Matthew Wright, Mold, UK

It's fine saying that we pay less tax and keep more of our hard earned money but have all the people calling for this forgotten about the mass unemployment that was caused the last time this type of policy was implemented under Thatcher and then Major? If we allow the Tories back into power we might not have jobs to pay tax on. Think on when you cast your vote on June 7.
Dave, Edinburgh, UK


There should be sensible policies on the issue

Robert Hopkins, Preston, Lancashire
I personally agree with the Liberal Democrats on taxation. There should be sensible policies on the issue. The Conservatives and New Labour believe in tax cuts which will affect public services and social security spending. The tabloid press support the two parties' views on tax, they try to publicise to the majority of the electorate that increased taxation is a negative policy, where in fact it can be positive. The only people who will benefit by tax cuts are the rich minority rather than the poor majority.
Robert Hopkins, Preston, Lancashire

Wasn't it the Tories that reduced the value of the married person's allowance and mortgage tax relief to almost meaningless amounts? It's hypocritical, then, to denounce Labour for removing them. What they replaced them with, an arbitrary "Child's tax allowance", is unfair to single earner families. Why do dual earners on 30K each get it, but a single earner on 40K not? However the electorate promotes a "something for nothing" culture in our politics: we want tax cuts but still want big government to take responsibility for too much.
James, Hants

As long as every citizen of this country believes that they as an individual should pay less tax (and there is plenty of evidence of this in these responses), politicians will be too scared to be honest about the subject and will use all the obfuscation they can to conceal the reality that you cannot have adequate services without people paying a realistic level of tax.
Les Hall, Huddersfield, UK


Taxes are the foundation of power for any political party

Joe, London, UK
Taxes are the foundation of power for any political party. Unfortunately, power has a tendency to corrupt and total power corrupts totally. No politician will willingly give tax money back to the hard-working taxpayers of the UK. This is the money that pays their wages and funds their wasteful, ill-conceived policies after all. Any so-called 'tax rebate' promises should be viewed with the contempt they rightly deserve, for what the Chancellor gives with one hand he quickly snatches back (usually plus 100% interest) with the other hand.
Joe, London, UK

When is VAT going to be discussed? It is the most unfair of all the taxes and should be no more than 5%. VAT taxes rich and poor equally and yet no low paid people seem to object to this Euro tax. Taxes should be collected fairly and not imposed as disincentives either. If we should not use our cars so readily then it should be dealt with by legislation and not price. As it is the rich can continue their lifestyle and the rest have to suffer or go without. What a damming indictment of a Labour government.
Geoffrey Bastin, Heathfield, East Sussex

All the parties seem to treat the electorate like fools when it comes to tax. For Labour to not raise income tax, it must raise taxes elsewhere otherwise it can't increase public spending. Likewise, Mr Hague has missed the point in offering a 6p cut in petrol duty, when the price has gone up 4p in the past month alone! The problem is, if all stealth taxes were abolished then it would raise income tax for all to levels that would either cause a taxpayers revolt or send many employers overseas.
Paul R, Oxford, UK


Taxes should be cut. Governments are intrinsically not good at spending money wisely

Matthew Wright, Mold UK
Taxes should be cut. Governments are intrinsically not good at spending money wisely. More taxes equals more buearocrats which equals more rules to justify their exsitance, which equals more taxes and more buearocrats and so it goes on. Spedning more money on public services will not of itself solve any problems, in fact its likely to make them far worse as we have seen for many years. If you have systems that are falwed pumping more money in only wastes money and embeds the faults in the system. Govt has simply become too big and it is ridiculous to think Govts can do everything for us. It would be far more efficinet and effective to take less money off people and to allow them to spend it wisely in a culture of responsibility. Tax and spned is flaed and taking us nowehere, supporting Labour on this road to nowehere will just mean we have bigger problems to try and solve in years to come.
Matthew Wright, Mold UK

UK politicians, no matter which party must think us all fools. They reduce income tax, but increase virtually every other tax going (and even invent some new ones) to claw back more and more of our hard earned cash. This hits everybody, rich and poor on thier purchases. There is a problem here though; the labourer earning 10,000 per annum pays the same tax on his purchases as the corporate executive earning 100,000. Surely it would be fairer to increase income tax and reduce (if not remove) the so-called stealth taxes.
David Scott, Farnborough, Hants

This is a complete non-issue, as most of the election is. All parties are basically committed to the same ends and by the same means. Not one has mentioned the costs of, The Scottish Parliament (and it's expensive new building), the Welsh Parliament, the Westminster Parliament (and it's very expensive New building, the most expensive office space in the UK!), the European Parliament, the European Commission, local councils. Never has anyone costed these things - add in the dome and the proposed 8 billion tax cuts pale into insignificance.
John, Bristol


Surely those in charge of our country's financial future should be able to handle simple mathematics?

David O'Sullivan, London UK

I am a little concerned that, apparently, neither the Conservatives, nor Labour's sums add up. Surely those in charge of our country's financial future should be able to handle simple mathematics?
David O'Sullivan, London UK

I would go for an end to stealth taxation, and put it all on income tax. But reducing taxes? How come the average Frenchman or German, who pay higher taxes, live better off than the average Briton, despite living economies who are deemed to be less healthy than the UK's
MIchael Blatt, London, UK

In the end, we're all dumb to the point in voting. It doesn't matter who wins in the end, they all bring about so called stealth taxes. How they can tell the public on their campaigns they'll do this and do that, is beyond belief! I certainly wont fall for it again!
MRF, UK

I want a government which will spend less, tax less, legislate less and simply leave us alone.
David Brearley, Leeds

Gaggle on as much as they do, All politicians are the same. Always promises here, promises there. When they win, those promises are all out of the window. They wont get my vote again!
MF, UK

Of course the Tories are right when they say that 6p off a litre of petrol can easily be offset by savings in expenditure. After all think of the savings on benefits. One pensioner or NHS patient will die for perhaps every 500 gallons worth of petrol. Thus automatically cutting costs. A small price to pay for a day out at the seaside or using the car to go to the corner shop to buy fags. Also vouchers could be given so that motorists that believe old age pensioners should die for cheaper petrol could save for their grandparents' funerals
Laurie Frampton, London England

It's fine saying that we pay less tax and keep more of our hard earned money but have all of the people calling for this forgotten about the mass unemployment that was caused the last time this type of policy was implemented under Thatcher and then Major.
Dave, Edinburgh

A waste of time, once/if we join the United States of Europe, Tax and spending will have to become central otherwise the whole concept of a single market/state is lost. Taxes will be like the US of A, Federal ones and state ones, state (i.e English taxes) small fry. The real issue is 'do we join Europe or not?, sort that NOW and whichever way we choose we could actually get on and sort the country out instead of wasting time and energy pretending it is not an issue as we wait for the War Generation to die off.
John O'Byrne, Bristol

Wasn't it the Tories that reduced the value of the married person's allowance and mortgage tax relief to almost meaningless amounts? It's hypocritical, then, to denounce Labour for removing them. What they replaced them with, an arbitrary "Child's tax allowance", is unfair to single earner families. Why do dual earners on 30K each get it, but a single earner on 40K not? However the electorate promotes a "something for nothing" culture in our politics: we want tax cuts but still want big government to take responsibility for too much.
James, Hants


I just wish that there was an end to stealth taxation

Andy J, Hants, UK
I don't care who is elected. I just wish that there was an end to stealth taxation. I'd much rather that the government took all the extra taxation it required by re-adjusting the rates of income tax. Whilst not well-off by any means, I'd rather the money never found it's way into my pocket in the first place than see governments steadily remove it piece by piece with rate changes and adjustments throughout the year.
Andy J, Hants, UK

Tony Blair has an enormous majority and is presented with the weakest opposition for some long time. Now is the time to make the case for higher taxes to fund better public services. So why is he too scared to do so?
Chris Cameron, London, UK

Under Labour mis-rule, taxes have steadily been piled on in the most sneaky, stealthy way possible. Pensions have been silently plundered to create the false impression that Labour are the party of fiscal rectitude. They are certainly morally bankrupt and would have a huge overdraft if there were such a thing as a truth bank.
Richard, Kingston, Surrey

Taxes are the foundation of power for any political party. Unfortunately, power has the tendency to corrupt and total power corrupts totally. No politician will willingly give tax money back to the hard-working taxpayers of the UK. This is the money that pays their wages and funds their wasteful, ill-conceived policies after all. Any so-called 'tax rebate' promises should be viewed with the contempt they rightly deserve.
Joe, London UK


Only Charles Kennedy admits that you can't have something for nothing

David Thomson, Newcastle, UK
The Lib Dems seem to be the only party that are not treating us like fools. Labour cut income taxes and then claw the money back with stealth and the Tories jump onto any bandwagon that happens to be passing at the time, and forgive me if I'm wrong but didn't they introduce the fuel tax escalator? At least Charles Kennedy admits that you can't have something for nothing.
David Thomson, Newcastle, UK

I believe the politicians on tax - that they'll lie, lie and lie again, all of them. None of them have the common sense to realize that what we want is simplification. Abolition of all excise duties, & replacing VAT with a flat-rate purchase tax on everything would be a good idea. Income tax is too complicated to be reformed, so scrap it altogether. Replace all means-tested benefits with benefits paid to all. That would cut out benefit fraud, and remove the "poverty trap" which is such a feature of the current system.
Brian, Belfast, Northern Ireland

In the past 4 years public companies have had a huge amount of windfall tax money taken from them. The owners of these companies our pension funds have in effect lost this money. Have we not been collectively attacked our future private pensions? I might add the loss of tax relief on dividends has taken 20% off income form dividends which will only be felt after the election. Is Gordon Brown going to own up to robbing our future our private pensions and savings to fund an election win?
Gavin Palmer, Surrey, UK

Tony Blair is a liar when he talks about tax. I am a victim of one of his stealth taxes. Has my tax burden increased since New Labour took power? Oh yes - quite beyond belief. I think William Hague should promise everything to everybody - just like Blair the Liar!
Lucho Payne, Bristol UK


A radical tax cut now will undoubtedly disrupt the current equilibrium in the economy

Andy Gilbert, London, UK
On several occasions during the last Tory administration, we were given an ill considered tax cut which added such an extreme inflationary pressure to the economy that mortgage payers in the UK ended up forking out far more in additional interest than the benefit of the tax reduction. It is disturbing that they seem incapable of learning from their own economic mismanagement. A radical tax cut now will undoubtedly disrupt the current equilibrium in the economy and fuel inflation which will in turn fuel interest rates which will in turn fuel unemployment which will fuel increased public spending which will fuel higher taxes.
Andy Gilbert, London, UK

What a pity that the paid-up Conservative Party members contributing to this debate have such short memories! The last Conservative Government left behind a 28bn public sector debt that took the Labour Government two-and-half years to pay off. Hague,Portillo, Widdecombe and the rest of the Tory frontbench all enthusiastically supported the Poll Tax, VAT on domestic fuel which hit pensioners and low-income families so hard. Above all the Tories had 18 years in power before and they did not reduce the burden of taxation, they increased it!
Nolan A. Dunbar, United Kingdom

Labour are promising not to raise the rates of taxation again. That is not the same as raising tax. In the last four years a greater proportion of GDP has been taken in tax and a lower proportion spent on hospitals and education compared to the John Major administration. Brown wants the money to spend on entry into the euro.
Darren Webb, London

The Labour promise at the last election was not to raise the basic or higher rates of income tax which, palpably, they haven't. The fact that the Tories didn't shout loudly that this is not the only way of raising tax revenue is because they used exactly the same trick! But where did the money they collect go? I would suggest mostly down the drain; at least Labour are spending, if a little late in the day.
Steve, UK

I don't see how the Tories believe that fuel tax hits the poorest most. It hits the owners of the biggest cars Usually the rich most and those without cars usually the poorest the least. If they were really so concerned about the poor and rural areas they would use the 2.2bn to improve the public transport to deprived and rural areas. But of course they won't because it's not a bandwagon they've thought of jumping on yet.
Stuart W, Bournemouth uk


There seems to be some confusion between the 'needy' and the 'greedy'

Frodo, UK
There seems to be some confusion between the 'needy' and the 'greedy'. I am quite prepared to pay taxes so that even someone who chooses not to work can have a room in a hostel and a couple of meals a day. Currently we are effectively taking half the pay packets of workers who are putting in 50 hours a week and often living in shared accommodation or small flats. We are spending the money on relatively luxurious community association housing for irresponsible parents and 'fuel subsidies' for pensioners who over winter in the Bahamas. Both of these are real world cases that I have encountered in the last few months.
Frodo, UK

The Tories will do what they always do (no matter what it says in Hague's manifesto) and give tax cuts to the rich and those who don't need it, such as married people with no children, and lump more taxes on the poor. The funny thing is the poor will vote for them! As for 6p off a litre of petrol, that will benefit drivers for a few months until the oil companies put their prices up again and then what is he going to do?
Gary Wright, London, UK

Despite what Hague says, I don't feel that I am paying any more in taxes under the Labour government. I did pay more tax under the Tories, the allowances never kept pace with inflation, and sometimes they didn't get updated some years. Only the rich had tax cuts under the Tories, the rest of us had tax increases.
Steve Thursby, Leeds, England

I am getting sick of continuing policies by successive governments to squeeze more and more money out of the hard working community in this country. It's time for the state to back-off. Will the state ever give anything back as in lowered fuel taxes?
Dave, Aberdeenshire

I applaud the Labour Government for giving the Bank of England independence; it was a significant release of control. A greater release of control would be to state and enforce allocation of taxes to expenditure. Such a move would gain significant public respect and boost public debate over both taxes and expenditure.
George Eldon, Haslemere, Surrey


Tory fuel cuts will negate the efforts of the last four years towards sustainable transport

John Sreeves, Swindon, UK
So the Tories are offering tax cuts on fuel. Did anyone spot the cuts in bus and rail fares? There weren't any. The resulting modal shift back to the roads will negate the efforts of the last four years towards sustainable transport. Expect to see a motorway building programme back on the agenda if they win.
John Sreeves, Swindon, UK

Tony Blair is an inveterate liar. Under his leadership, Labour have put airport tax up by 200%, and have effectively stifled young IT companies from growing.
Dr. Paul Mackey, London, UK

It seems extraordinary that taxes continue to be raised ever higher, and public services continue to crumble. The answer does not lie in raising taxes higher still, as Labour will undoubtedly do if re-elected, nor does the answer lie in the Tories headline-grabbing populist cuts. The only answer is for a complete overhaul of the tax system, stop the tinkering, scrap the whole system and design a new, fair, system from scratch.
Andrew Rose, Leeds UK

How many parties and foreign trips abused by politicians do our taxes pay for? I would not trust a politician on any subject, least of all telling the truth.
ND, UK

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21 Mar 01 |  Facts
Taxation
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