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Brown supports tax on financial transactions

What are we to make of Gordon Brown’s conversion to the wonders of a tax on financial transactions? Test it against the Maxims of Taxation, as put forward by Adam Smith. Here they are – judge for yourself.

1. “The subject of every State ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the State.” 

2. “The tax each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain, and not arbitrary. The time of payment, the manner of payment, and the quantity to be paid, ought all to be clear and plain to the contributor, and to ever other person.”

3. “Every tax ought to be levied at the time, or in the manner in which it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay it.”

4. “Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible, over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the State.”

If these are not to your taste, there is always Henry George – hardly a reactionary – on the same subject.

1 “It should bear as lightly as possible on production — least impeding the growth of the general fund, from which taxes must be paid and the community maintained.”

2 “It should be easily and cheaply collected, and it should fall as directly as possible on the ultimate payers — taking as little as possible from the people beyond what it yields the government.” 

3 “It should be certain — offering the least opportunity for abuse and corruption, and the least temptation for evasion.”

4 “It should bear equally — giving no one an advantage, nor putting another at a disadvantage.”