Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Taxes and loving our neighbours

Another day, another crackdown...

Every government has tried to cut benefit fraud. So it's not surprising that the current collection of millionaires want to stamp it out. It's estimated that around £2bn is fraudulently claimed or paid due to administrative cock-ups. It's quite right that this money should be better used. I'm not sure the credit-rating agencies being employed as bounty hunters is the answer, however.

I look forward to the same amount of government zeal being put into chasing the estimated £30bn that is not being paid by UK tax payers because they've found interesting ways of  defrauding the Inland Revenue. When in opposition, the Lib Dems were always going on about targeting tax evaders. But now the Lib Dems have disappeared without trace and with them, any sensible policies they used to promote.

So David Cameron says in today's Manchester Evening News says: "We need to do more to stop fraud – £1.5bn of hard earned taxpayers' money is being stolen from the taxpayer. This is simply not acceptable. Nor is it right that only £20m of benefit fraud-related debts are recovered each year. Or that three in four of those caught don't get prosecuted." adding: "It's quite wrong that there are people in our society who will behave like this. But we will not shrug our shoulders and let them get away with it any longer. We will take the necessary measures to stop fraud happening in the first place; root out and take tough action against those found committing fraud; and make sure the stolen money is paid back."

I'll be cheering when he says the same about tax evaders, also robbing ordinary hard-working tax-payers. until then, I'll just assume this is yet another tough talking gimmick.

I think the only bit of tax advice in the Bible is in Romans 13 where Paul says that we should pay our taxes as a way of expressing our love for our neighbour (v6-7 in the context of what it means to be living sacrifices, 12:1-13:14).

We pay taxes to ensure that those who are suffering in straitened economic times are not thrown to the wolves. I am pleased that my taxes go to support those who are unemployed, need help with their housing costs, are struggling to make ends meet because of ill health or difficult family circumstances. It's love of neighbour in action.

No comments: