BBC still using ideological evidence on top UK income taxes

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The voice of the UK establishment?

The voice of the UK establishment?

On the BBC’s flagship World at One programme on Wednesday (about 19:40 minutes in), there was a discussion between Ed Balls, the UK’s Shadow Chancellor (rough translation, finance minister hopeful for the opposition Labour Party) and the BBC’s Martha Kearney. Once again, we see the BBC continue to parrot the establishment line on taxing wealthy people, in the face of clear contrary evidence that has been presented directly and publicly to them. Kearney:

“The IFS [Institute for Fiscal Studies], the economic think tank, they looked at your plans to raise the top rate of income tax, and they say that you are only going to raise about £100 million, which as you know is pretty small beer when it comes to these kinds of budgets. Is this purely an ideological move?”

Now Kearney is right in that the IFS did indeed say this, itself citing a 2012 report from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on the matter.

But we recently sent to the BBC John Thompson’s recent analysis of the revenue impacts of changing the top rate of income tax. It demonstrates in great detail why the £100 million estimate is so uncertain as to be next to useless. There also appears to have been selective use of data to achieve what looks like an ideologically-skewed result.

Yet the BBC persist in using the flawed analysis, without questioning the figure, despite clear evidence to the contrary that is in their possession. They aren’t alone, of course: far from it. But it is frustrating when evidence is presented then ignored, and the establishment position parroted without even a raised eyebrow.

Endnote: On a separate BBC-related matter, we believe that this blog from 2011, entitled Is the BBC scared of tax havens?, still asks an appropriate question. Nothing has happened since it was published to make us change our minds.

We’ll finish with a tweet that isn’t about the BBC per se, but is about one of its little tax haven offshoots, in the British tax haven of Jersey. Based on our experiences of this voice of the Jersey establishment, this tweet is hardly exaggerating.


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