Belfast Telegraph

Loopholes for rich exist

By Ralph McGuickan

The Chancellor's move to phase out the 50p rate of tax will be fodder for the tabloids who will, no doubt, portray this as rewarding the fat cats - many of whom shared a privileged education at Eton with Mr Osborne and his boss.

Yet what is often missed in the rhetoric is the fact that the 50p rate was a complete waste of time and probably cost more to administer than it raised in income tax to the Treasury.

The replacement of the back door mansion tax by raising stamp duty to 7% will no doubt have the Lib Dems rubbing their hands with glee. This coupled with the closing of the loopholes of stamp duty avoidance schemes and the other measures to stop the mega-rich avoiding large tax bills will be used as justification for the phasing out of the 50p tax rate.

The problem is that closing tax loopholes is a bit like nailing jelly to a tree - ultimately futile, as one set of actions are offset by very clever and very expensive tax experts who seem to have a treasure chest of loopholes for the rich.

Whilst it may be unpopular to reduce the tax burden on those who can most afford to pay, the Government needs to be pragmatic. Applying small, almost insignificant changes, to the majority of taxpayers is often much more effective and less controversial - after all, "we're all in it together!"

The fiscal game of robbing Peter to pay Paul goes on - sadly most people don't realise that they're a little worse off than before the Budget!