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Tax freedom time

The Adam Smith Institute has an interesting article about how Tax Freedom Day, the day on which you stop working for the state and start working  for yourself, has now reached June 25th (at least if you take into account the surplus of government spending over its income).

Tax Freedom Day is a good idea, transforming a rather abstruse number (the percentage of GDP taken by government spending) into something that is readily comprehensible by the man in the street.

The problem with the concept though is that it only comes round once a year. It would be better public relations to have a tax freedom time, the point each day when you stop working for the government and start working for yourself.

By my calculations, if you normally work a 7 1/2 hour day, starting at 9am, you will probably still be working for the government when you knock off for lunch at 12:30. So when you buy lunch, you still haven't retained a single penny of your salary in order to pay for it - Gordon's had everything you've earned so far. Then, you return at 1:30, you have to work for another seven minutes until finally at 1:37pm, you finally reach tax freedom time.

And it's the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.


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Reader Comments (9)

Congratulations (or should I say, condolences) on passing Midsummer's Day before you're free to work for yourself. I believe we in the States will be quickly passing you by, though, if we haven't already. Our current batch of crooks seems to be doing everything they can to top the corruption and thievery of the previous gang.
May 14, 2009 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

Bringing it down to a daily time frame is a good idea.

However there is a fallacy inherent in this, which is that you get nothing at all for your money and that you are in no way working for yourself when you work to pay your tax and that it in no way benefits you. That's not true.

As far as that goes, it's a bit like talking about 'Tesco freedom time' or 'Mortgage freedom time' or 'Lecky bill freedom time' - the time of the day when you're finished working to pay your other bills. (Which if your bills are anything like mine, is probably a little after midnight :-)
May 15, 2009 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

No, there's no fallacy. You are free to shop in Sainsbury's rather than Tesco. You cannot avoid paying the state. Getting something back is irrelevant. Roman slave-owners had to give their slaves some money to buy food and clothes with. This didn't stop them being slaves.
May 15, 2009 at 3:35 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

"You are free to shop in Sainsbury's rather than Tesco. "

But you gotta eat. And similarly the property rights and contract law and all the rest that you use to earn and keep what you claim you earn unaided, but clearly don't, isn't free. If you want the rest of us to respect (what you claim is) your property, you certainly have no right to unilaterally dictate the terms and the price of it. Especially not a price of zero.

"You cannot avoid paying the state."

Well, yes you can. You don't have to work. You can earn less than the tax free allowance. And rather more obviously, you can leave. The defining characteristic of a slave is that they must work and they cannot leave, so you're no slave.

No, it's rather more like a group in a restaurant receiving the bill at the end of the meal and quibbling over who had the smoked salmon or whether they got overcharged for the dessert. Or, as in the Seinfeld episode saying "Why are we ordering all this food? We're not hungry now".

Not as noble sounding as all the theft and slavery rhetoric, perhaps, but a lot more accurate.
May 15, 2009 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer
At least I now have a cast-iron excuse for not starting work until just before lunch.. :-)
May 16, 2009 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Just some thoughts I had which I haven't linked together :-)

The fact that I know my money will be stolen does not mean that when it is taken it somehow mysteriously is not theft.

If a private criminal tries to steal money from me I have a right to resist. If a public criminal tries to steal money from me I have no right to resist.

What about if you didn't know something was taxable, you do it and they tax you after and there's no way of going back in time to stop your past-self from doing it? You can't say that isn't theft, unless you're in room 101.

Theft/tax - it's an awful double standard that most people have. Just because the thief has a hat on doesn't mean he's not a thief.

So I guess what I'm saying is that theft is not tax, but tax is a form of theft.
May 16, 2009 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon B
Simon B,

"What about if you didn't know something was taxable, you do it and they tax you after and there's no way of going back in time to stop your past-self from doing it?"

There is such a thing as an implicit contract. What if you walked in off the street and helped yourself to the Sunday buffet in your local Indian restaurant, claiming you thought it was free? You'd still get the bill at the end and you'd still be obliged to pay.

It doesn't mean that any and all taxes are justified or that they can't be excessive, but clearly there are public goods such as police, courts, contract enforcement, prisons etc that don't come free. Not paying your share is a form of theft.

"Just because the thief has a hat on doesn't mean he's not a thief."

And just because the thief is a libertarian who expects services for nothing doesn't mean he's not a thief either. You can't just unilaterally declare things to be your property and expect the rest of us to go along with it and even help you defend it, and expect all that free of charge. Indeed that is pretty much exactly how a thief thinks, isn't it? :-)
May 17, 2009 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer
The necessary functions of the state account for a minuscule fraction of the tax rake, and would account for even less if it were not for the deliberate hinderances of professional (leftist) bureaucrats.

Oooh! If the rules say I've got to do my job hopping on one leg with both hands tied behind my back, then not only will I need more 'resources' and a higher salary to cope with the extra difficulties, but I've also got plenty of ready-made excuses for when I utterly f*ck it up! It's win win win!
May 17, 2009 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterfewqwer

Yes, you have to eat. This is unavoidable. Having the choice of Tesco and Sainsbury ( and Aldi and Lidl and Waitrose and Somerfield and Morrison's and the corner shop and the farm shop and the specialist shops) obviously means (a) that you are more likely to get what you want (b) that you are more free than if you were forced to go to Tesco.

I agree one is getting something from the state in return for the money. I agree also that we have to have a state for certain unavoidable functions. However there are plenty of functions that the state takes on that are avoidable. Much of what I get in return for my tax is neither what I want or a necessary function of the state. If I am forced, say, to make a contribution to Covent Garden I do get the knowledge that some other people will get cheaper opera tickets than they might do otherwise. This might conceivably make me happier, I suppose. Whether it would make me any happier than our Roman slave was when he saw how neat and tidy his master's house was is debatable though.

This is not to say that I am a slave. I was merely countering your argument that getting something back from the state somehow makes our dealings with them free. In supermarket terms the state operates in a manner that is the equivalent of saying you must shop at Tesco, you must spend £1000/week and you must buy 6 cases of Babycham.
May 19, 2009 at 7:44 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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