I've just filled in my tax return. It takes three days to gather all the figures and about 20 minutes to actually write them down on the form. It has to be sent before September 30th if you want those nice people at the tax office in Cornwall (could my tax office be any farther from where I live?) to calculate the amount of money you need to send them by January 31st (great date that: you have hardly anything left after Christmas!).
My tax affairs are very simple: I earn peanuts (I only work six months of the year). Yet I have to fork out masses of dosh because the personal allowance is so incredibly low. (I’m particularly annoyed at the amount of Class 4 Insurance I have to pay. Don't ask: it’s really complicated – lots of long divisions). Everyone agrees that no one can live in London on my income before tax so how come I still have to pay tax on it? Doesn’t make sense to me.
I don’t resent paying tax as such – I’m a good citizen and the mediocre services we get have to paid for somehow; I just think there should be a lower rate for very small earners. What is one to do? Earn no more than the allowance (currently £4,745) and then go on benefit? It’s preposterous.
I'm quite frugal; I don't spend spend spend; I know the value of money, unlike some people… What was it Catherine Zeta Jones said in that courtroom? Something like (cue weird transatlantic-Welsh accent) “One million may seem like a lot of money to some people in this room, but to us it’s nothing.” Or, on a smaller scale, a little while ago, someone wrote about a range of outrageously priced make-up, “Soixante-dix euros de plus ou de moins ne rendront personne plus riche ou plus pauvre.” (No, I won’t translate it: you understand what it means.) Shades of bird-brained Marie-Antoinette and her “Let them eat cake!” I should have got myself a rich hubby.
Feeling depressed now. Too depressed to slap anyone – not even those two silly women above or Mr Brown.
Update: Sorry about all that kvetching. I’ve now had a good night’s sleep; I feel refreshed and strong enough to slap anyone: so I’m slapping Gordon Brown (and those two arrogant women).
I’d like to clarify a couple of points:
When I say, “I only work six months of the year”, I mean it’s not from choice: I was quite ill a few years ago and couldn’t carry on having deadlines every two or three days, so I had to let go of a big portion of my workload. There is nothing available for me to do to replace that lost income.
When I say, “I earn peanuts”, I mean I earn less than twice the personal allowance before tax (you’ve got the amount, you can work it out).
In France, there is a super-super high-rate tax, called “Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune”, which hits people earning over £500,000. In the UK, whether you earn over £500,000 or over £31,400 you're liable to the same tax rate. In France, Inheritance Tax starts around £25,000; here it’s £263,000. There's no mystery, is there? No wonder there's more money in the French kitty.