Shock news: Tax Payers’ Alliance nearly accurate

Last year, the right-wing Tax Payers’ Alliance railed against ‘road tax’. Following complaints the “independent, non-partisan” organisation now rails against Vehicle Excise Duty.

Sadly, when regurgitating parts of the TPA’s press release, The Sun yesterday went off-script and ranted about “road tax”, a tax abolished in 1937.

MOTORISTS pay for their road use more than twice over in tax to the Government, The Sun can reveal.

Less than half the cash demanded by Whitehall from drivers gets ploughed back into road costs, leaving them subsidising the rest of Britain.

A total of £30billion is paid annually in fuel and road tax.

Ignoring the fact that The Sun’s graphic artist can’t use a calculator, the basic argument that motorists “subsidise the rest of Britain” is disengenous. Taxation is not ring-fenced. Tax raised by one activity or one subset of people does not go back to that activity or that subset of people.

As is explained elsewhere, the money paid by motorists does not have to go back to motorists. If it did, all hell would break loose. Interest groups of all creeds and colours would start demanding “their” tax contributions should only go to fund “their” projects. Society does not work that way; cannot work that way.

There are no taxation opt-outs: married couples without kids cannot strike out the amount of tax that pays for schools; pacifists cannot strike out the amount of tax that goes on defence spending. And motorists can’t successfully demand that the money they give to the Government is given straight back to them in the shape of smoother, less congested roads.

If you come across such arguments the simple answer is this: Airline passengers pay taxes when they fly from British airports but nobody suggests all this money should go to building more runways. It’s the same for booze: taxes levied on drinkers do not get spent on creating bigger, swankier pubs.

The Tax Payers’ Alliance seems to be getting a little better at understanding how taxation works. Its director, Mr Genghis Khan, even allows his policy wonks to talk about Pigovian taxes and the hidden externalities of mass motoring. In this report – upon which The Sun based yesterday’s article – the TPA, accurately, used “Vehicle Excise Duty” and “motoring taxes” throughout. All except on the final graphic: old habits die hard and it slipped in one small mention of “road taxes.”

Nearly accurate: for the TPA that’s quite some achievement.

  • Ericonabike2004

    Still find it difficult to reconcile the stance taken against the use of the expression ‘road tax’ with a campaign jersey proclaiming ‘I pay road tax’. Can you square that seemingly hypocritical circle for me?

  • Neill Young

    Taxpayers Alliance – still a bunch of dicks though.

  • Anonymous

    Ericonabike2004,nYou are simultaneously correct while being particularly obtuse.nn’Road Tax’ is a term in widespread use, hence the validity and necessity of using it in campaigns. nThe fact that ‘Road Tax’ doesn’t exist needs further explanation, but one has to grab the attention of the masses first and ‘I Pay Road Tax’ is quite brilliant, it’s short, eye-catching and to the point.nnIt’s always easier to criticise than to do something well. That’s why there are so many critics and so few ‘doers’.

  • Kim

    As usual when the like of The Sun and the “Tax Payersu2019 Alliance” talk about the cost of motoring they only think about the roads, they forget the overall cost, to society, of motoring is far greater and therefore motorist are highly subsidised.nnAs for the “Tax Payersu2019 Alliance”, I wonder if HM Revenue & Customs have check to see if all their members are paying all of their taxes…

  • Anonymous

    To me, from everything I’ve read of the Taxpayers Alliance, they strike me as an organisation that is a bit like the Association of British Drivers. Their tactics have been a little similar: a little hyperbole, a little fearmongering, cherry picking figures to suit needs or claims…nnI honestly feel that people’s lives will be richer the more they know about how public money is spent. It gives you an element of power to question why, when and how. If people are given the wrong message consistently by the media then it leads to all kinds of social problems… anger, resentment, sometimes finding a scapegoat for something that hasnt actually happened… etc

  • Pleasedontpesterme

    So motorists subside the rest of us do they? They don’t need schools, hospitals, old folks homes, GPs, the list goes on and on. Do get over yourselves you mindless, pathetic, half-witted uninformed disciples of the Top Gear bullies cabal

  • drpaysroadtax

    f-k me.nnAt least they include emissions here as a cost.nnMaybe next year they will add another of the 101 items that the roads cost to us all.

  • Anonymous

    It’s meant to make the point that ALL tax payers pay for roads, not just VED payers. So, the real meaning of ‘road tax’ is income tax, NI, VAT et al.nnTherefore a tax paying cyclist has every right to wear a jersey proclaiming that they pay ‘road tax’ because, by any sensible definition of the term, they do.

  • carltonreid

    Yup. We all pay.

  • JD

    Sadly I can’t remember exactly where I read it now, but I have seen recently a very good summary of the actual cost of motoring to the nation once you take into account the healthcare costs attributed to road traffic accidents, court costs for motoring related offences and so on … and it pretty much balanced off the amounts raised in motoring taxes. nnThe TPA and motoring organisations tend not to include those figures when they plead their case, however.