15 September 2014

Living Income Guaranteed and Taxation - From Redistribution to Contribution

‘The re-set’ is a UK-based movement consisting of several proposals to effect ‘a constitutional re-set to re-store fair principles, accountability, community led governance and ethics. Ensuring peoplecare, earthcare and fairshare for the benefit of all’. You can  check out their website here: www.thereset.org. An overview of the proposals is presented here: http://www.thereset.org/proposals.php.

In this blog the focus is the Proposal on the abolition of Taxes. The re-set proposes to abolish the current tax system and replace it with ‘TEAL’ – Total Economic Activity Levy:

TEAL is very much a ‘pay as you go’ tax. Every time money is withdrawn or paid into a bank account, a tiny percentage of money from each transaction will speedily find its way into the treasury. Even people without bank accounts will contribute, because whenever a pack of cigarettes or a loaf of bread is purchased, the seller (say a shop) will be paid, and when the shop pays into his bank TEAL will be collected, and if you sell your labour (i.e. you have a job) TEAL will be paid by your employer and collected by your bank.”

This principle is the same one we propose under the Living Income Guaranteed proposal. Within such a system, the focus changes from ‘redistribution’ to plain ‘contribution’.  It’s not about trying to equalize incomes and moving it from the rich to the poor – but a matter of: if you make more use of the economic system, you proportionally contribute more to sustain it. One likes to believe that one’s wealth is derived from merit alone – but it simply isn’t. There is an entire economic system in place that enables a successful person to be successful. There are those who have gone before you, who have shared their know-how with you, there are those who have an income to buy your goods or services, an income they earned through participation in the economic system, there is physical infrastructure like roads and railway systems that enable all economic activity. If the economic system was self-sustaining and never required any financial input in order to maintain it or correct its inherent weaknesses, then we could say the economic system is a free one. Obviously, that is not the case. The ‘pay as you go’ tax is therefore a reasonable method of collecting the funds to be re-invested within the economic system that each one depends on.

If a basic income or living income is provided through non-tax funding – then the ‘pay as you go’ tax or ‘TEAL’ should be sufficient to mobilize the funds needed for other government expenditures, which we suggest would be quite limited if the economy in itself is largely corrected and empowered through the integration of the Living Income or Basic Income – then other taxes can indeed be abolished.

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