In recent weeks, the Tories and their pals in the boardrooms of England have been upping the pressure over Labour’s proposed Mansion Tax. This is a tax which would affect people with properties worth more than £2 million pounds; in other words this is a tax which is targeting the rich. But would the Mansion Tax be enough to reverse the Tory Coalition’s austerity?
In recent weeks, the Tories and their pals in the boardrooms of England have been upping the pressure over Labour’s proposed Mansion Tax. This is a tax which would affect people with properties worth more than £2 million pounds. It is estimated that between just 58,000 and 110,000 people (depending on who you talk to) will actually be affected by this in the UK, with exemptions for those on a low income. In other words this is a tax which is targeting the rich.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that it is the rich which have led the way in protesting about the tax as if it was the greatest disaster to hit society since the Visigoths invaded ancient Rome. A load of “business leaders” have come forward to complain about the “effects” of this tax on industry. So self-serving are these statements from the captains of industry that even the normally passive Guardian newspaper had to comment as follows:
“…after muttering vaguely, …bosses fix on just two gripes – the levy on mansions, and the 50p personal income tax. Neither of these is an industrial question at all, in the same sense as, say, competition policy, company taxes or employment protection. Both are emblems of the rich paying their share towards fixing the public finances, and it is this, presumably, that “business” doesn’t like.
“The mansion tax is a levy on unearned capital gain, accrued on an asset that can’t flee the country.” (Guardian comment 9/2/15)
Speculators and parasites
That is the truth of it. This is wealth not earned at all but obtained from property speculation and the spiralling upwards of housing prices. No wonder the Tories have seized on this tax as an issue, calling it a “nasty tax.” They are always happy to raise taxes for the poor – VAT for example; but when it comes to their own pockets, then it is a different matter.
The Tory party is full of such speculators and con-merchants; the Cabinet is packed with millionaires who all own nice mansions and luxury flats. However, it is not just the Tories. UKIP too have complained, under pressure from their big-business backers, about this being, in the words of spokesperson Suzanne Evans, “vengeance against the wealthy.” Incredibly, she compares the Mansion Tax to the Bedroom Tax – as if the taxing of a few rich people can be compared to an attack on millions of the poorest people in Britain.
Then we come to Myleene Klass, famous for pointing at stuff on a TV advert and for recently posing in her undies in The Sun’s infamous page 3. She has been moaning on about the tax for months to all who will listen, implying that all properties in London are worth over £2 million. Evidently the tax will cause untold misery to Londoners. This from someone who has just purchased, as it so happens, a £3 million, 8 bedroom semi in North London. Several celebrities have now said they will leave the country if Labour brings the tax in, which is good news.
On top of this we have Peter, now Lord, Mandelson who has jumped in saying that the tax is “crude” and “short-termist.” This from a man who knows a bit about getting nice expensive houses over the years.
Hit the rich
Should the Mansion Tax be welcomed? It is said that this will raise £1.2 billion a year towards supporting the NHS, for example. Marxists are naturally in favour of any tax, or anything else for that matter, which hits the rich in favour of improving the living standards for ordinary people. The fat-cat bosses and bankers certainly deserve to be hit. However, we must recognise that this is quite a limited proposal.
The rich are in any case masters at avoiding their fair share of the tax burden, as we have seen with the HSBC scandal. According to the Tax Justice Network, the wealthy property owners worldwide are estimated to be avoiding $32 trillion dollars a year in taxes. Thousands of highly paid accountants are employed to ensure that the wealthy 1% can skip round as much of their tax bill as possible. If they cannot avoid the tax, they simply pass it on to the rest of us, directly or indirectly. Needless to say the workers enjoy no such options.
The one thing which is worrying the rich is that the tax might push down the prices of top properties by as much as an estimated 10%. This would hit their investment prospects and undermine future speculation. One irony is that many of these properties are lying empty and unused. The crisis of the homeless means nothing to the speculators, only money in the bank.
Crumbs off the table
Sadly, the reality is that the Mansion Tax would at best just skim the surface of what is required. £1.2 billion may seem a lot – and it is; but this would still represent just a very small fraction of what is available and what is needed to solve the crisis within society. In truth, this is mere crumbs off the table, compared to the capitalists, who both have their cake and eat it too. The rich will never just “pay their share” of what they should.
Worse, the Labour leaders are presenting the tax with one hand, only to then present continued austerity with the other. What money is taken from the rich will simply find its way back to them by another route.
Measures like the Mansion Tax and restoration of the 50p tax bracket are just minor reforms in an epoch of vicious counter-reforms. Labour hopes that presenting measures like these will show that they are taking action in favour of workers and the poor; but in fact the reverse will apply, as the cuts begin to bite.
What is required is revolutionary action. The rich hate taxes, even if they can easily pay them, but can live with them so long as the capitalist system remains unfettered and free to exploit us.
There are trillions of pounds lying in the coffers of the capitalist class and their banker cronies. Grabbing back this cash, which was ours in the first place, through the taking over of the monopolies, banks and insurance houses, and using this as part of a socialist plan of production, could solve all the problems faced by society today.
Taxing your way out of a problem will always fall short unless the core issue, the capitalist system, is taken on. This is what is needed and that is why we should fight for socialism.