As I was saying before, the real poison of the MPs allowances system is not that they get ‘free money’. It is that it insulates them personally from the bulllying of officialdom that they would have the power, had they the motivation, to curtail. The Guardian reports:
A Labour source said: “The fees office green book which sets out the rules and advice on behalf of the parliamentary authorities states specifically that professional advice, for example from accountants or solicitors, is an allowable expense.
“In order that MPs comply fully with all the relevant requirements relating to tax, and to ensure they are properly meeting all their tax liabilities, many rightly seek professional assistance and advice where this relates specifically to their role as members of parliament.”
Under tax rules, most workers are not allowed to claim the cost of paying an accountant to help them to fill in a tax return as a legitimate business expense.
HMRC is deliberately discouraging ordinary people from getting professional help with a complicated and secretive tax system by disallowing personal accountancy as an expense.* That is calculated to keep a naive segment of the taxpaying public on the margin in subjection and overpaying. In my experience an accountant is not expensive. The psychological pain he protects you from is at least as important as the financial benefit of getting it right.
The sums they claim for it are trivial, but that MPs are encouraged to get that analgesia (100% free to them), whereas the ordinary voter is discouraged from it (paying out of their own pocket, with at best 40% counting against the tax they pay, if they fall into the category where accountancy is allowed as an expense, which they won’t find out unless they employ an accountant in the first place), is another corrupting influence.
* My idea of ‘tax justice’, unlike that of the various organisations that campaign for people to pay as much tax as possible and for more arbitrary power for the authorities, is one in which the system is transparent, there aren’t different sets of rules for different people, and the rules themselves are fair and set out in law.
BTW, on the subject of tax, readers might enjoy this letter in The Times.