Hardback Price £18.00

  • ISBN: 9780856831355
  • Pages: 128pp
  • Size: 216mm x 138mm

Buy this book:
Shepheard-Walwyn Store

Author Details:

Dr Burgess, a member of the Royal Economic Society with a special interest in taxation, was Director of the Economic Study Association till his death.

‘If one were to set out with a specific, stated objective of designing a tax system which would penalise and deter thrift, energy and success, it would be almost impossible to do better than the one which we have in this country today.’

These are the words of Lord Soames, speaking in the House of Lords in 1978. Since then the tax system has become even more complex, with even more taxes. This book challenges the need for government to resort to such a plethora of taxes which undermine the economy, killing the goose which lays the golden eggs, and threaten the integrity of the political process as sectional interest lobby ministers for exemptions.

The author argues that not only does taxation flout the principle of private property, but it ‘is a primal cause of both inflation and unemployment’. Developing Keynes’ general theory of employment, he continues, ‘leads to the conclusion that an open trading economy is likely to be most competitive, and therefore most prosperous, only when all taxation is abolished … thus in a free market a prerequisite for efficiency and competition working together to reduce an economy’s aggregate supply price to a minimum is the abolition of taxation.’

‘Regardless of this, the freely elected governments of contemporary trading economies – with the acquiescence of their electorates – persist in raising the major part, if not all, of their revenues by means of taxation. The immediate cause of such action by governments, and the acquiescence of their electorates, is ignorance of any acceptable alternative method of raising sufficient public revenue.’

To provide an answer he refines Alfred Marshall’s distinction between the public and private value of property to reveal an alternative, peculiarly public source of revenue. Unlike a tax, defined by a former Labour Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, as ‘a compulsory contribution imposed by a public authority, irrespective of the exact amount of service rendered to the taxpayer in return’, the ‘public value’ identified by Marshall would deliver an exact equivalence between the benefits enjoyed and the amount paid. On the basis of this widely accepted definition, therefore, it is not a tax but the price for services rendered like any other transaction – the price fixed by the market.

The author shows how reform may be introduced with a minimum of disruption, so that politicians with an eye to re-election, can achieve measurable results during the lifetime of a parliament.