Monday, May 9, 2016

Why the Universal Basic Income's time has finally come

I have had many interactions with Her Majesty's Revenue and Custom (HMRC) over the years, and most of the time it has been bewildering and frustrating. The people on the phone are usually polite and helpful but the odd one tends to make you feel like you're some kind of naughty, idiotic child who's out to fleece the entire HM Treasury.

I recently had to update HMRC on our tax credit details and I had all the figures given to me by my accountant. When I tried to supply the information to the guy on the end of the phone, he countered what I was saying and got me all flummoxed and flustered so I ended up say I'd go away and check everything. I then rang back with new figures and got off the phone as quickly as I could only to feel lacking in confidence entirely about the information I'd provided.

I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, but when it comes to anything tax-related my brain melts and I can't seem to function. Maths was never my strong point, but I know if I put my mind to it I can do it. The British tax system, however, is so incredibly complex and baffling that I'm not surprised people try and evade the whole thing altogether.

This is partly why I am a strong supporter of the universal basic income. It has other names (e.g. social wage), but the principle is the same. Every adult receives an unconditional monthly income – enough to survive on – replacing all other state benefits or welfare. Once a month, the government gives you a bit of money for merely existing. You can spend it however you like, but you don't get any other handouts, and that's it. No strings attached whatsoever.

It would mean no more frustrating calls to HMRC, no tedious forms to fill in and no feeling of government officials watching over your shoulder to see what you're spending your money on. Of course, people would still pay tax through their regular employment so it's not like HMRC would cease to have any purpose.

It's just I won't have to dread calling them every year not really knowning what I'm talking about.

And that would definitely be a good thing.  

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