Why GST should be kept simple

writes in the Telegraph:

Today the pasty is fighting back, but it shouldn’t be. For years it has enjoyed a special exemption and privilege which it should never have had. Companies and consumers of hot pasties have benefited unfairly while fish and chip shop owners and consumers who preferred pizza have had to pay more. Through a strange anomaly bakery goods were exempt from VAT, the Budget changed that, but today Cornish MPs are objecting to the change. Other MPs are now complaining about another reform which will see certain types of caravans subject to VAT as well. …

Britain’s VAT system is a mess, with arbitrary exceptions all over the place. In recent years this has led to absurd legal battles over whether Pringles are crisps and whether Jaffa Cakes are cakes or biscuits.

A report from the think tank Reform showed how inefficient the current zero and reduced rates are. Citing evidence from the OECD and looking at how our system is one of the most complicated in Europe. They suggested exemptions total more than £30bn. This £30bn could be given back to people in more efficient tax cuts. …

Other countries like New Zealand manage perfectly well with a much simpler system. We should follow their example.

But we can not take our simple system for granted. The Greens and Maori Party want to bastardise it, and Labour campaigned last election on doing the same. It looks like that policy will be dropped, which is a good thing.

If you are interested in British politics you can follow Ruth on Twitter, @ruthoporter.

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