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Transparancy in tax and benefits

Comment 19th July 2010

I suggest that taxes paid and benefits received both be a matter of public record.  This will make avoidance and missclaiming more difficult.  There is no reason why this should be a secret – for companies there may be an argument for keeping secrecy but I feel that the secrecy over individuals transactions with government leads to suspicion and criminality.

Along with this I would like the paying of taxes a matter of pride and honour.  The honours system should actively discriminate against those who avoid paying taxes and should actively honour those who make significant contributions.

Why does this matter?

Civil society requires that the rule of law applies and is known to apply equally to all.  We all have responsibilities to our government and we all have rights to support from our government.  In the financial field this is secret and "murky".  If it were open then we would all know and not need to suspect, we would recognise the value of the those who make the big contributions and would be able to identify those who managed to avoid their reasonable share. Once the system was up and runnning that the embarassment would be much reduced as it would be something that we would expect to know.  There would, I admit, be an transitional purtpose where everyone receiving benefits would be accused of claiming dishonestly and anyone appearing wealthy would be accused of cheating.  This would require careful rejigging of benefit rules to make them reflect the real world – like friends staying not resulting in loss of benefits – and upfront rejigging of tax laws to prevent overt avoidance but recognising particular situations – like authors getting high income one year and none the next.

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