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Tuesday 26 April 2011

TPA – A Question Of Attribution

I have to give an A for Effort to the non-job holders of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), who have released another “briefing note”, on the subject of Corporation Tax, but on the occasion of the Easter Monday bank holiday. Clearly there is no rest for the wicked.

The conclusion of this exercise, authored by one Anthony J Evans, finds adversely on the tax concerned, which chimes admirably with the objectives of the so-called “2020 Tax Commission”, the pretentiously titled body set up by the TPA and the Institute Of Directors (IOD), which advertised itself as working to urge simplification of the tax system, while – as I’ve already shown – recommending abolition of the minimum wage.

What is one to make of this note? It is blindingly predictable that right leaning organisations such as the TPA and IOD will denigrate Corporation Tax – or, given half a chance, any tax – while those elsewhere on the political spectrum will argue in its favour. The release of this latest salvo brings little new to the table.

One can, however, discern a flavour of where the “2020 Tax Commission” is coming from by the august bodies referenced by Evans in his “research”. Such is the range over which his net has been cast that even a blog has been included in his list of attributions.

The Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation, which gets six mentions, sounds authoritative. But it has been bunged five million notes by the Hundred Group, a lobbying organisation, which puts its contribution into perspective. Other cited organisations are from the predictable: three mentions for the American Enterprise Institute, two for the Cato Institute, and two for the TPA’s own stalwarts.

Three cites are for Tim Worstall, “fellow” of the Adam Smith Institute, a museum of outmoded economic thought which has fraudulently appropriated the name of the founder of economics, and whose recent contribution to a debate on NHS elective surgery included the assertion that it was “shite”.

The level at which this “research” has been pitched shows in the use of the FCABlog as a source – twice – with an equal number of cites being for the Maily Telegraph and Daily Mail. The Guardian also gets two mentions, but only so that Evans can kick it.

But the conclusion is in accord with the TPA and IOD agenda, so that’s all right, then. It would have been most unfortunate had the result been otherwise.

1 comment:

aje said...

Thank you for taking the time to provide an analysis of the sources I used in the article.

I agree that I cited more studies by right of centre think tanks than left of centre, but I believe this is a reflection of the work published by both. I may well be wrong about this, but your point would be a lot more compelling if you actually provided examples of conflicting evidence that you're implying I have ignored/overlooked.

I'd also challenge your reading - I do cast doubts over the reliability of work from the Oxford Centre in the article (see page 6).

I'm also surprised that you don't think blogs are a suitable source for a Policy Briefing. I think you've underplayed the amount of academic literature that I've cited, but even still, why are you writing articles like this if not to influence public debate? Heaven forbid the author of a Policy Brief should read blogs!