Can you imagine tax inspectors rifling through your possessions to see if their value corresponds with the self-assessment you’ve made under a new ‘net worth tax’?
We’re talking of items on which you already have paid tax. Or heirlooms for which your parents or their parents were taxed.
You’ve heard of the special ‘mansion tax’ payable by anyone owning a property worth more than £2 million.Under the Lib Dem's proposed new scheme tax inspectors would get unprecedented new powers to go into homes and value rings, necklaces, paintings, furniture and other family treasures The so called 'jewellery tax' was drawn up by Tessa Munt (left) and David Laws (right)
Now a Liberal Democrat policy document discusses a more extraordinary scheme – a special tax on those whose possessions and properties combined exceed £2 million in value.
Drawn up by Lib Dem MPs Tessa Munt and David Laws – who are close to party leader and deputy premier Nick Clegg – this envisages: ‘HM Revenue & Customs, in policing the system, may have to visit homes to test whether asset values of jewellery paintings etc were correct.’ (Tax inspectors currently need a court order to enter homes in this way.)
The ‘net worth tax’ would have the effect of adding massively the estimated 300,000 people affected by the mansion tax by including all their possessions as well as ‘buy to let’ property owners whose combined portfolio exceeds £2 million.Nick Clegg has made clear his views about taxing the rich saying 'we need to make sure people see it is being done as fairly and progressively as possible'. By 'progressively', he means raising taxes on the rich steadily Commons public administration committee chairman Bernard Jenkin, said on Radio 4 last August: 'If the politics of envy made a country rich, we'd be very rich'
Tory MP Charlie Elphicke calls it ‘the politics of envy at its worst…people won’t stand for it.’ But is he right?
Most of us know perfectly well that you can’t make the poor richer by making the rich poorer.
Churchill said: ‘For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself by the handle.’
Yet many - even people who are well-off - enjoy hearing the better–off squeal about higher taxes.
We’ll tolerate our own taxes rising if we hear the very rich are squealing about theirs.
Labour and the Lib Dems more or less exist to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor - although neither, of course, describe that as their raison d’être.MP Charlie Elphicke has described the scheme as 'the politics of envy at its worst' and claims that 'people won't stand for it'
The Tories have to pretend some enthusiasm for the practice while yoked in coalition with the Lib Dems.
Not all Conservatives, though. Plenty of Tory MPs hate David Cameron’s coalition accommodations with Nick Clegg.More from Peter McKay... In 70 years, have we gone from the greatest to the weakest? Silly spats prove how weak our leaders are 19/05/13 Is Cameron readying his lifeboat like Blair? 12/05/13 Don't panic yet, Dave. It's Red Ed who should be worried... 05/05/13 Sir, we are charging you with being a celebrity... 28/04/13 Will one of our cities be next to face 'lockdown'? 21/04/13 Grocer's girl who 'got above herself' 14/04/13 Ed needs a dose of the old Blair snake oil 07/04/13 Labour's addiction to welfare hurts us all 31/03/13 Now Dave's 'dog whistle' guru is calling the tunes 24/03/13 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
I suspect they include Commons public administration committee chairman Bernard Jenkin, who said on Radio 4 last August: ‘If the politics of envy made a country rich, we’d be very rich. Most rich people are contributing far more in tax than other people.’
This is true but he knows there are notorious exceptions - rich people who go to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying any tax at all.
Such people give the rich, generally, a bad name, just as benefit cheats tarnish everyone who relies on the State for financial assistance.
Jenkin says we’ve already driven wealth creators abroad by taxing them too heavily.
No doubt it is true that some have left for that reason but I doubt if they are a significant number. Yet further wealth taxes are bound to have that effect.
Surely the Government should concentrate on collecting the wealth taxes which exist rather than dreaming up new ones.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has made clear his views about taxing the rich, saying: ‘If we are going to ask people for more sacrifices over a longer period of time, a longer period of belt-tightening as a country, then we just have to make sure that people see it is being done as fairly and progressively as possible.’
By ‘progressively’, he means raising taxes on the rich steadily, by increments.
The ‘net worth tax’ may come to nothing. But it might if the Lib Dems are in coalition with either the Tories or Labour after the 2015 general election.
Will we accept tax inspectors having the right to enter our homes to assess the value of jewellery, paintings and furniture?
Those who consider their own possessions and property worth far less than £2 million might think why not? Nothing for them to lose. Except that once established, there’s nothing to prevent such a tax being extended to cover any level of possessions.
The Government needs to raise more tax because it can’t – or won’t – freeze or, even better, reduce its expenditure. The crude calculation – even for a Tory chancellor – is that it’s more dangerous politically to lower spending than to raise taxes.
But the prospect of tax inspectors rifling through jewellery boxes, or studying paintings and furniture, should ignite a storm of anger.
The truth is that everyone is at risk in this thin-end-of-the-wedge wheeze, not just the rich.
Perhaps there will be a backlash, but the thinking behind this idea won’t disappear. It’ll re-emerge in another form.Jessica Raine is currently installed in a love-nest with actor Tom Goodman-Hill, 42 Jessica Raine became the nation’s new sweetheart in BBC1’s sentimental period show Call The Midwife. Was there anything on the box more charming than seeing her pedalling about on her rounds, dispensing dewy-eyed sympathy to groaning expectant mothers? Even the rascally playboy and Spectator diarist Taki Theodoracopoulos, who prefers to lust over the daughters of noblemen, declares his undying love for the dainty actress. Now it emerges that Jessica, 30, is not as innocent as she appears. She is installed in a love-nest with actor Tom Goodman-Hill, 42, who has left his partner of 20 years and their teenage children.Ms Raine’s agent, Kate Bryden, says: ‘Tom and Jessica did not get together until well after he and his wife separated.’Be that as it may, has Ms Raine damaged her standing with the public? I hope not. We have no business judging her private life. My thoughts are with poor, rich Taki, mourning the lost innocence of Jessica in his Gstaad chalet.Grow up Hugh, for goodness sake...
Hugh Grant announces the birth of his second child on Twitter, saying: ‘In answer to some journos. Am thrilled my daughter now has a brother. Adore them both to an uncool degree. They have a fab mum.’
Later, he added: ‘And to be crystal clear. I am the Daddy.’
The ‘fab’ mother — unnamed by Grant — is Chinese-born Tinglan Hong, 32, who met him in a Chelsea wine bar in 2008.
After their daughter was born 16 months ago, Grant released a statement saying: ‘I can confirm that Hugh Grant is the delighted father of a baby girl. He and the mother (again unnamed) had a fleeting affair and while this was not planned, Hugh could not be happier or more supportive.’Revelation: Hugh Grant announced yesterday that he had had a second child with Tinglan Hong
Clarification: The actor later tweeted 'I am the Daddy' to any followers who were confused
The actor later told the Leveson Inquiry he regretted using the term ‘fleeting’, claiming: ‘I was protecting her reputation — I didn’t want her to appear to be a jilted girlfriend.’
Failing to name her on either occasion doesn’t do much for Ms Hong’s status, either. Neither does phrasing his initial message so clumsily that it didn’t acknowledge he was the father.
Knowing he dislikes and distrusts the Press, I don’t want to be too hard on Grant. But is it fair to wonder why, at 52, he sometimes acts and sounds like a teenager?The trials of Kevin
The Coronation Street star Michael le Vell (real name Michael Turner), who has been charged with 19 offences, including six rapes, might be written out of the soap, it’s reported.TV bosses are considering a storyline in which his character, garage owner Kevin Webster, is jailed. Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has been charged with 19 child sex offences, pictured with his wife Janette Beverley, who he split with last year But wouldn’t ‘jailing’ Kevin of Corrie be prejudicial to Turner’s real-life trial? He has said he is innocent of the charges and will fight them vigorously. What if his character is earlier found guilty of the fictional ones?Even if the show’s makers, Granada TV, drop the jail storyline, any criminal trial of Turner raises special problems.
As Kevin, he’s a star of a show which is seen by nearly ten million people three nights a week, most of whom will have come to a conclusion about his character. Can jury members be found in Britain who don’t know who he is?Anjem Choudary has been recorded telling followers to claim benefits as part of their struggle to bring sharia law to the UK Why welfare can't be reformed
Anica Ion, a 75-year-old Romanian grandmother, is delighted her unemployed son has made his home in Birmingham rather than his native Barbulesti.
‘He has ten children and the (British) State gives him more than £500 a month,’ she told The Times.
Only the most hard-hearted of us would shut our borders to poor foreigners who want to provide for their families. But should we be responsible for the indigent citizens of other EU member nations – or of any foreign country - whether they work or not?
Most of us would say ‘No’. We can’t afford it. Let their own governments help them. Or pay us to look after them instead of them relying on our taxpayers’ money being sent back to their countries of origin in the form of benefits, sometimes to build houses.
But some will say ‘Yes’. We must set an example to others. The foreign families we assist will eventually join the ranks of the employed and pay tax. Some may become brilliant entrepreneurs.
Inevitably, some will abuse the system, as our own benefits cheats do.
For example, the Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary, who collects £25,000-a-year in benefits, has been caught by The Sun newspaper telling his followers that work (as most of us experience it) is ‘slavery,’ fit only for kuffars (non-believers).
Choudary thinks it’s perfectly in order to fight a holy war against non-believers while accepting benefits from them. He advises his supporters: ‘The normal situation is for you to take money from the kuffar. So we take Jihad Seeker’s Allowance. You need to get support.’
They say hard cases make poor laws. Plenty of the hardest are not foreigners but HM’s subjects, born and bred here, who have never worked, or sought to work.
But any meaningful attempt to reform the welfare system runs up against politics.
The Tories can’t do it for fear of being portrayed as cruel, nasty and unelectable. For its part, Post-Blair, Labour depends as a party on defending the benefits system. As do the Lib Dems.Pistorius, who ran in both the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics last year, has said he will dispute his murder charge 'in the strongest possible terms'
Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius told police he shot his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, accidentally after a domestic row, according to reports from South Africa, and will dispute his murder charge ‘in the strongest possible terms’.
We’re told Ms Steenkamp was behind a locked bathroom door when she was shot and was still alive when he carried her downstairs and gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Earlier reports spoke of Pistorius’s ‘dark side’ and his gun collection. Police said they’d been called out several times to the Pistorius household and denied the theory that an intruder may have been involved.
Here, public discussion of cases isn’t allowed for fear it prejudices jurors. But if they can’t distinguish between what they’ve heard or read about, and what they’re hearing in court, are they up to the job in the first place?