LETTER:Self-assessment: good news or tax by stealth?

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The Independent Online
From Mr Allan Black

Sir: I read with interest your article and leading article concerning the Government's decision to change the tax regime for those deemed self- employed. While I share your views about tax increases by stealth, and the effect this change may have on the hitherto predictable voting patterns of the self-employed, one key point has been missed.

Tens of thousands of construction workers are also likely to lose out. Formerly, they were deemed self-employed for tax purposes and therefore paid gross; but, with effect from August 1998, they will be paid net. The Government's intention is to increase the tax "take" from this group.

Leaving aside the morality of yet another tax increase by stealth, the concern of the GMB, which represents 20,000 construction workers, is that many will feel forced to work illegally. Safety in the construction industry must be paramount - if thousands of workers choose for financial reasons (they face a 24 per cent cut) to take this dangerous route, then the Government's back-door tax increases may have disastrous consequences.

Yours sincerely,

Allan Black

National Officer

Construction Industry


London, SW19

3 January