Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Tory marriage tax break is absurd

If your husband or wife dies, the Tories will console you by raising your tax bill.

LibDem deputy leader Vince Cable was spot on yesterday when he slammed the Conservatives' proposals of introducing marriage tax breaks as "derisory" and "patronising". This is why:

1) They introduce a clear-cut discrimination between married people and everybody else. Not just single adults or non-married people. Not just those who are divorced. It also discriminates against widows and widowers. If your husband or wife dies, the Tories will console you by raising your tax bill.

In one fell swoop, all those will become second-class citizens purely because they don't have a partner, even if it isn't through fault of their own. This is social engineering at its crassest.

2) Instead of lifting the poorest 3.5 million people, workers and pensioners out of income tax (which is what the LibDems are proposing), the Tories will ensure that everybody - including low-paid workers - will now subsidise a specific category of people purely because they decided to exchange rings.

Tory MP David Willets said on the radio that his party "are trying to ease the tax burden on people", but in effect a single mother on the minimum wage will be subsidising a person earning £43,999 just because the other person is (still?) married.

3) The Tory proposal will also result in a double blow to people who've been dumped. You can marry as many times as Zsa Zsa Gabor and the Tories will reward you. You get dumped once and they'll punish you. "We understand the value of marriage", said Willets. You don't say...

4) The proposals are "derisory" because they assume that, for an extra £150 a year (and that's the most generous discount), people will decide to get married. Tim Harford from the Financial Times said on the Today programme that "if you pay people to get married they will probably get married", but he can speak for himself. I'm sure my partner wouldn't be that chuffed if she found out £3 a week was what made me propose.

Even more ridiculously, how can the Tories think that a marriage that's hit the rocks will be saved by a £3 a week tax break?

Ed West in the Telegraph probably thinks he's a bit of a cheeky lad because he throws a few gentlemanly insults at Vince Cable, but isn't it just a picture to suddenly see a Tory discover the value of a little bit of extra cash?

"Twenty pounds might just cover the price of a cab, a round of Japanese lagers or slightly less than half a gram of coke to people in the media", writes Ed West, "but for those on the breadline £1,000 a year makes some difference."

This is from the same people who went mental when the minimum wage was introduced (to help everybody on low pay, not just the married ones) and still go apeshit each time it's raised to keep up with the inflation.

But I bet Ed West, or any Tory, won't grasp the irony...


claude said...

In response to some people who have been commenting on this article:

Please don't bother posting comments that include libellous language. Even if I may agree politically with what was said, they just won't get published.

PhilH said...

It will also only reward one third of married couples, and it will often be childless married couples that will benefit.

Stan Moss said...

This is would be ludicrous if it was just a pre-election gimmick. What makes it worse is that it's that the prescriptive Tories are back with a bang, telling you how to best live your life, creating a stupid disparity of treatment between citizens based on something entirely arbitrary.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Of course it is absurd and wilfully pandering to a tiny sliver of the electorate.

Awful stuff.

Phil Tomlinson said...

I work with or have worked with three people in the same place, all with partners, all unmarried and all with kids. I have met every one of their kids and they were all as well-behaved, pleasant and happy as any child can be expected to be. It's almost as though good parenting is more important than signing a piece of paper!

But despite this they would have to subsidise people who sleep around and neglect their family because they have a piece of shiny metal on their finger. What a great policy.