Bunhill: Nuisance taxes

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The Independent Online
SOUNDS like Ken Clarke is starting to take Bunhill seriously. Last week the Chancellor dropped the strongest hint yet that taxes will be raised in his first Budget this November. Strangely, there was no mention of caravans or umbrellas - our first two suggestions for a clobbering by the Revenue.

Thank you to everyone who has written in with ideas for nuisance taxes - levies which have the dual benefit of filling Exchequer coffers and cracking down on life's irritants.

A bottle of bubbly is on its way this week to David Jenkins of Burton Bradstock, near Bridport, Dorset, who proposes Personal Stereo Tax. (He also suggests a tax on cyclists who ride two abreast, but this may be difficult to enforce.)

The theory is that users of personal stereos should be penalised for the tinny cacophony inflicted on innocent passengers in trains, fellow diners in restaurants and people in other public places.

Hilary Monk, of the consultants Verdict Research, estimates two to three million personal stereos are bought each year in the UK. Quite by chance she confides she is suffering from the personal stereo menace herself - from an office colleague. The pestilence is even more widespread than I thought.

An extra pounds 10 levy on every new personal stereo sounds like an excellent start. Annual tax generated - pounds 25m. Who knows, it might even narrow the trade deficit too.