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Monday, August 1, 2011

A taxing question

Norman Lamont, a.k.a. Baron Lamont of Lerwick, a man famous for his inability to pronounce his own name (ask any Lamont, particularly of the Shetland strain - the stress is on the first syllable) has called for a reduction of the maximum income tax rate from 50% to 40% for poor souls struggling on £150K a year.

This is the man whose political career was distinguished only by his far from illustrious tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, during which he oversaw fiscal miracles such as Black Wednesday, when George Soros famously made a billion pounds in one day and Britain’s ignominious exit from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, events which helped push Britain into recession.

Other achievements listed in his C.V. memorably include his ignorance of having a professional dominatrix for a tenant in his London flat and a liking for cheap booze from Thresher’s.

Lord Lamont’s argument is that it makes Britain uncompetitive in Europe. Exactly how this competition is acted out is not clear, but a quick glance at income tax rates around the world makes one wonder. Countries with significantly lower rates than ours include powerhouses such as Albania, Belarus, Estonia and Montenegro, all with rates between 10% and 20%. Countries with higher rates include Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Go figure, as they say.