The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has come out with a pre-Budget report. I’ve lost track of the details of how budgets work now, but basically he announces some things now, then does a bigger announcement in April (that’s the one that usually contains tax changes).
One of the things he’s announced is a rise of 1.25 pence per litre on petrol. This is the first increase in 3 years, partly because of the general rise in oil prices, but also due to a civilized revolt by car owners. As this is about the largest ‘green’ tax in the country, that means that green taxes overall have dropped compared to 2003. That, it seems clear, is a bad thing. All taxes act as a punishment, whatever their other virtues, and currently we get much more of our revenue by punishing work, savings or even spending than we do by punishing things we actually want to punish.
Personally I’d like to remove all taxes from driving except for those on fuel. Too much of the cost of using cars is hidden by the large fixed cost of owning them, so a trip that might actually cost £100 including its share of those costs appears to only cost £25 of petrol. If the costs were placed on individual acts of consumption it would prompt people to think more carefully about every trip, without necessarily costing drivers as a whole any more than the current system.
Another in the long list of things I’ll sort out when someone makes me Emperor.