Telegraph rates campaign

The disgraceful way in which the media participates in mind-manipulation, when it comes to economic policy, is illustrated by the campaign being run by the London-based Daily Telegraph.

Its Editors hate the tax known as “business rates” – the levy on commercial property. They want the tax “reformed”. They give huge space to critics of the tax, without any attempt at objectively informing readers of the facts.

In today’s edition (November 17, 2014) it reports that business rates “will outstrip council tax and fuel duty” (the council tax falls on residential property).

So what?

Well, the “business rates expert” who made the prediction complains that the increase is “disproportionate” compared with other taxes. But might that not be a positive advantage?

He is supported by a group of large companies which complain that business rates “seriously undermine” the attractiveness of the UK as an investment. They declare the tax “simply not fit for purpose”.

Really? What’s the evidence?

The commercial moguls say that the business rate “is one of the very few taxes which are non-cyclical and fixed at a level irrespective of economic or market conditions”.

No analysis is offered to set such arguments in their factual context. For example: taxes that are cyclical are significant triggers of the business cycle. Cyclical taxes – such as those on wages and profits – are burdens on production. To the extent that they relieve the fiscal charges on property, incentives favour the speculation in real estate – which is the major cause of economic booms and busts.

None of this disturbs the Editors of the Daily Telegraph. So their readers are not informed of what’s really needed – higher levies on business property (ideally, excluding the value of buildings) and lower taxes on wages and profits.

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