Feeds

Green taxes are a rip off says low tax lobby group

We want cheaper petrol

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Green taxes are being used by the government to raise revenues, rather than tackle climate change; are bad news for consumers and are socially unjust. These are the conclusions of the Taxpayers Alliance (TPA), a right wing lobby group dedicated to a low-tax society.

The TPA says that it has taken at face value the current analysis of the social cost of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions, drawing on resources such as the Stern Review, and the reports from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to come up with a figure of £11.7bn. This, it says, is what it should cost us to deal with climate change.

The group then compared this to the total cost of so-called green taxes, and concluded that the treasury raises almost twice as much money from these taxes as it needs to spend to deal with the social impact of our carbon footprint.

The major area of "overcharging" is fuel duty, which raises almost £20bn every year, over and above the amount spent on roads. The TPA argues that fuel duty is regressive, since it costs poorer people proportionally more, and should therefore be reduced.

Other taxes under fire include the climate change levy (unfair to Northern businesses), landfill tax (likely to be imposed in addition to council tax), air passenger duty and emissions trading schemes.

The report, which you can download here, concludes:

In many cases, green taxes are failing to meet their objectives, are set at a level in excess of that needed to meet the social cost of Britain’s CO2 emissions, and are causing serious harm to areas of the country and industries least able to cope. Green taxes should not be seen as a benign alternative to taxation of income and profits. Plans for new green taxes need a serious rethink.

But did anyone ever think all of the 50p per litre (and more) on petrol went to our roads and tackling climate change? After all, fuel duty has been with us for many years more than the global warming debate. Quite plausibly, our habit of driving around has at least partially funded our education system.

(Similarly, taxes on cigarettes, ostensibly to fund the NHS costs of lung-cancer-ridden smokers, are also an exercise in revenue generation. And why shouldn't they be? Taxes are there to raise revenue: after all)

If the TPA is arguing that the government is failing to meet its targets on climate change, or that the government is wrong to suggest that raising taxes will, in isolation, make us a greener nation, we're right behind it. But if they are arguing that we should get discounted petrol because the government doesn't need the money, (much as it pains us) we can't quite get bring ourselves to agree.

The problem lies in the assumption that: "green taxes can reduce the quantity of CO2 emitted in an economy by making activities that result in emissions more expensive".

This, we suspect, is a red herring. The government is certainly behaving as though it believe this to be true, and the TPA has taken it as one of its core assumptions, but we suspect it misunderestimates human nature.

Making a type of car more expensive, for example by raising the parking, tax and congestion charge costs associated with huge Chelsea tractors, doesn't stop people driving them. If you can afford a Porsche Cayenne, you can pay the tax. Poor families are not driving around in four-by-fours, after all. They're already on the bus.

The trouble is, that actually tackling our energy dependence means taking politically suicidal decisions. No one is going to vote for the government that says it is going to reduce the maximum allowable engine capacity of cars, ban farming of cows, insist we abandon all but local fruits and vegetables or ration our utilities.

But we digress. The TPA's sums suggest that UK households are overpaying tax by £400 per year. It accuses the government of cynically passing tax rises by calling them "green", and wants future environmental taxes to be reconsidered.

The Treasury responded predictably enough, maintaining that it is on target to meet its commitments under Kyoto. It also stressed that fuel duty is not primarily an environmental tax.

"In arguing against these taxes, the Taxpayers' Alliance are being doubly dangerous - it would mean cuts to public services, schools and hospitals, as well as higher carbon emissions leading to accelerated climate change," it said in a statement. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.