[Update at end of post]
Things are quiet right now at the comfortable and lavishly financed offices of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), which is inevitably an ominous sign, as it means the dubiously talented convocation of non-job holders is at work on yet another magnum opus of agenda driven misinformation. But enough is going on for the stream of falsehood to keep on flowing.
More from the Comfortable of Tufton Street
This continuous torrent of false facts is, at present, mainly directed to demonising Councils that are increasing Council Tax this time round. The TPA wants them instead to take advantage of Government assistance which will keep the rise down – though not necessarily eliminate it – although this would only be for one year, and it would still be taxpayers footing the bill.
To reinforce what is admittedly a rather sterile debate – the odd percent on something that most pay by direct debit over ten instalments each year is hardly here or there – the TPA has used a number of tactics. One is to say how much the tax has risen since 2001, but this only works until folks realise that much else of what they consume has gone up a lot more.
So into the mix is thrown mileage allowance, which, sad to say, is an equally sterile and unpromising debating chip. But that has not stopped the TPA from employing a mixture of misinformation and straightforward dishonesty to press the point. First, they cite a figure of 40p a mile and say that this is the “HMRC recommended rate”, which is not true. HMRC make no such recommendation.
What the nice people at the Revenue do do, however, is to allow folks to charge an amount free of tax for their mileage travelled on employer’s business. If the actual cost is more than that, well, that’s tough: you can only claim what they allow you to. The TPA argument is like saying the Income Tax allowance for single persons or married couples is “The HMRC recommended salary”, which is preposterous.
That is, in a nutshell, why one should never take a TPA assertion at face value. Moreover, the amount the TPA cites is not what HMRC allows: the figure has recently been revised from 40p to 45p (well, for the first 10,000 “business miles”, anyway, which for those using their own vehicle for occasional business use, should cover it). Note that the word “recommended” does not appear.
And that is how the TPA uses sleight of hand and dishonesty, day in, day out, in order to pursue its objective: the demonisation of Government – any Government – along with public service and public works.
[UPDATE 1 March: the TPA's supposed "Grassroots Coordinator" Andrew Allison - now there's a non-job for you - has re-iterated the "recommended rate" interpretation of the HMRC mileage allowance. A word in your shell-like, Andrew: back in 1999, this allowance had a maximum level of 63p per mile. I know this as my car, at the time, qualified for it. It can hardly be a "recommended" rate if it is cut by over a third over time, when the cost of motoring remains at a similar level.
But he does concede, in his rant at Stockton-on-Tees Council, that the allowance went up to 45p last April. Pity the TPA doesn't also say that they got this wrong several times over. And the chance of this malign body apologising for misleading the public is out of the question. No change there, then]