Letters: Mansion tax hard to avoid

Share

Dominic Lawson claims that advocates of a mansion tax are interested not in principle but in making a noise (19 February). His reasons for saying this do not bear looking into.

The possibility of a wealth tax may well result in a flight of capital. Suggest taxing jewellery or investments and these assets would quickly disappear. But it is much more difficult to make freehold properties vanish. They can be valued and assessed to tax and the resultant liability can be collected.

The recent tales of tax avoidance show clearly that it is almost impossible to ensure that businesses pay their fair share of tax. A mansion tax would be hard to avoid and if owners feel they cannot afford the amount due, they will have to sell their houses. A side-effect of such a tax is that the ever-rising cost of properties in central London would either slow down or cease.

Alan Golding

Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire

My grandmother bought her house in Cricklewood, north London, early in the 1950s. It was inherited by her son, who has lived in it all his life. He is now nearly 90, and poor (never having had a well-paid job) but his house is worth about three quarters of a million. Its rise in value was out of his control.

I know proponents are only suggesting a "mansion tax" on houses worth £2m and over, but there must be many people whose houses have grown in value to that sum regardless of their income or actions – especially if they live in London, where foreign plutocrats are allowed to drive up the price of housing.

I am astonished at Ed Miliband's sudden support for this tax. Is he saying that the elderly should sell their homes and move away from their friends and familiar surroundings in order to pay it? If so, I see very little difference between that and forcing poor people out of their homes and neighbourhoods by capping benefits and taxing spare rooms.

I think rich people should pay their share of taxes but their riches should be calculated on assets that are realisable humanely. The "mansion tax" is neither sensible nor humane. I don't like the phrase "the politics of envy" but this really seems to be an example of just that – "I can't afford an expensive house so why should you have one?"

Sara Neill

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Dominic Lawson rightly opposes the Lib Dem/Labour mansion tax but for the wrong reasons. The answer, of course, is more bands for the council tax (better still a set percentage of the value of the property) and a long-overdue revaluation. It's been 23 years since properties were valued.

Time for courage from our political class. And please, no more crocodile tears for "asset-rich, income-poor" widows.

Yugo Kovach

Winterborne Houghton, Dorset

Let the case for a republic be heard

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown makes a fair case against the monarchy (18 February) but makes one serious error. The British people are not "brainwashed". Indeed, most of the British people are not remotely interested in the monarchy or the royal family.

The challenge for republicans is to make the case more loudly and more clearly than before, to take on the royal PR-machine and challenge the mythology of royalty that permeates the media. Those who do support the monarchy usually do so because they've never been challenged to think twice about the issue.

My experience when debating the monarchy up and down the country is that when we do present a clear case for a republic the British public are very receptive to what we have to say.

Graham Smith

Chief Executive Officer, Republic, London EC1

One doesn't have to be "brainwashed" to believe that reform rather than abolition of the monarchy may be the most rational response. A case in point is the Duchy of Cornwall, created in 1337 for the personal use of the Prince of Wales. The current Prince has transformed this ancient sinecure into a synergy of innovative enterprises benefiting the whole community, such as his Duchy Products, which has generated £3.5m for HRH charities and boosted local farming.

The cult of republicanism would have us believe that more of the self-promoting ambition which is as the heart of our institutional malaise will make us all better off. Any number of republics indicate otherwise.

Dominic Kirkham

Manchester

In the face of Hilary Mantel's diatribe, at least the Duchess of Cambridge (God bless her) can be safe in the knowledge that the royal sprog she brings into the world will not be a descendant of Henry VIII.

Colin Macbeth

Portsmouth

On the train to salvation?

With respect to Deirdre Counihan (letter, 19 February), she did not buy her ticket for the Catholic train; it was bought for her by her Catholic parents. No child is born Catholic, Hindu, Muslim etc, but born to religious parents who choose to indoctrinate their offspring in their faith.

She also takes a very benign view of the guards on her train. Guards who throw people from the speeding train for certain transgressions. Guards who've forced young, vulnerable passengers to disembark at squalid end-of-line stations for back-breaking work.

The senior management are culpable too, transferring abusive station masters from station to station, hoping to conceal rather than eradicate the abuse. There's also their dangerous edict to eschew basic safety procedures during coupling. The health and safety certificate for this train operator surely expired some time ago.

I may not know where I am heading, but I prefer to find my own path – barefoot if necessary – than be told where I must go and how and with whom I must travel.

Barry Richards

Cardiff

Recent revelations call into doubt claims, trundled out again on the resignation of Pope Benedict, that there is something unique in the Catholic Church that leads to paedophile abuse and cover-up.

A recent tragedy ("Violinist found dead after testifying against her abuser", 17 February) suggests that those who moved on perpetrators rather than forcing a criminal trial may have had some genuine kindly intent in thinking it best to let the child move on rather than draw huge attention to the abuse.

Matthew Huntbach

London SE9

Geology courses fly off the shelves

As a geologist who has never knowingly stacked shelves, what can I say? IDS and numerous journalists might do well to remember that if it wasn't for the geologist there'd be nothing to stack on the shelves.

With no energy from the earth, the lights would go out. With no mined fertilisers, there's be no crops for us to eat. With no strategic metals we'd have no iPads or mobile phones, and with no mined iron there'd be no cars. There'd be no materials to build our cities, no one to plan foundations or stabilise slopes, and, especially in the south-east of the country, we'd have no water to drink.

A geology degree gives us a graduate who can contribute to society in so many ways. However, not all geology graduates use their degrees directly, and they find they are valued by employers in other sectors. Geology is one of the most popular subjects at university, according to the Student Satisfaction Survey, and rightly so – because we'd soon miss the geologists if they suddenly disappeared.

Professor David Manning

Morpeth, Northumberland

We can live with urban foxes

Nicky Browne (letter, 12 February) asks how to remove garden foxes without a gun. There are many cheap and effective deterrents, from sprays to machines that produce ultrasonic sounds that foxes detest. This is the only real way to manage urban foxes. Culling was tried by various London boroughs, but abandoned because killing only leaves empty territories to be rapidly adopted by previously non-breeding foxes from other groups.

Urban wildlife is not new, nor is it restricted to London. There are coyotes in many North American cities and leopards in Nairobi and Mumbai. Even tigers and elephants have plenty of neighbouring rural communities. Given that we demand that other countries preserve their wildlife, we should have the good grace to coexist with our own.

Adele Brand

Caterham, Surrey

Anti-food culture reaps its reward

Not being taught to cook, finding cooking a dismal chore and treating food as merely a means to an end are symptoms of a nation in which food and eating are considered secondary to some other business of life (letter, 18 February). And, like anything, value it not and you reap the rewards – in this case horse meat in your beefburger from Romania.

Immigrants from some of the most impoverished parts of the world have improved our cuisine no end, which is the opposite of Martin Taylor's assertion that the only cooks in the country are middle-class southerners.

John Laird

Rome

Supermarkets, in their quest for ever greater profits, have screwed suppliers into the ground and hard-working farmers have been driven to the wall because they cannot sell at the prices demanded by the supermarket giants.

Can anybody purchasing a ready-made lasagne meal for two for £1.50 really be surprised that the meat is dodgy? What did they expect, fillet steak? You get what you pay for.

John England

Disley, Cheshire

If horse meat is so much cheaper than beef, can we have more, please sir?

Chris Webster

Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Back to history

Plaintive history teachers describe as "a catastrophe" the proposed teaching of the Reformation and English Civil War to quite young children by people with no immediate background in the subjects (letter, 18 February). The catastrophe is that the sex-and-violence regime of Anne Boleyn and Stalingrad has created that ignorance. The way to mend it is for those called up to explain the Wittenberg theses and Stuart absolutism to find suitable books and read them.

Edward Pearce

Thormanby, York

Ill, not wicked

I was shocked by your arts correspondent's attitude to mental illness, as shown in his piece on Stephen Fry (18 February). He reports Fry as "confessing" to his bipolar illness, and "admitting" that he felt suicidal – treating him as miscreant. Can he accept that Fry was ill, and that this experience was terrible for him as well as bad for the play that he was starring in?

Rob Wood

Cornwall

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker
 

Obama must speak out – Americans are worried no one is listening to them

David Usborne
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game