Tag Archives: savings

The Consumption Tax – A Non-Starter

The Consumption Tax – A Non-Starter

By Duncan Whitmore

In a recent essay published on this blog1, the present author proposed a short series of aims that would reduce the burden of taxation on economic prosperity, in comparison to a programme proposed by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI).2 Part of the ASI’s programme consists of “replacing [the] income tax with a progressive consumption tax, so savings are not taxed”.3 In relation to this, we explained, briefly, that all taxes are paid for out of one of two sources of production – either income or wealth – and that

The individual names of all of the different taxes refer not to fundamentally different types of tax; rather, they denote either the specific kind of good to be burdened (i.e. property, alcoholic beverages, etc.) or the particular event that triggers the tax liability. For example, within the category of taxes on income, an income/payroll tax taxes the income at the point it is earned; a VAT or sales tax, on the other hand, taxes the income at the point it is spent.

Consequently, we concluded that a proposal for a consumption tax amounted to little more than simply moving a tax burden around and calling it a different name rather than eliminating its depressing effects upon economic prosperity:

Changing the precise moment when a tax is levied ultimately does nothing to ameliorate the effects of the tax – it simply means that you might be able to hang on to your money for a little bit longer before having to give it up. Neither also does changing the triggering event have any effect upon who, ultimately, pays for the tax. All taxes must be paid for out of production and so the burden of any tax always falls upon producers.

This essay will elaborate on why, for a programme that wishes to give a serious boost to economic prosperity by reforming taxes, the proposal to switch to a consumption tax from an income tax is a relatively pointless endeavour which should not be considered as a priority. We will also explain why the claim that “savings are not taxed” is utterly fallacious before exploring some particular difficulties that are inherent to introducing and operating a consumption tax. Although this essay concerns, mainly, the effects of a consumption tax upon economic prosperity, we will then move on to highlighting some further problems this method of taxation presents from a purely libertarian perspective. Finally, we will conclude by pointing out that any benefits a consumption tax could bring are unlikely to be realised in the absence of fostering a general government commitment to lower tax rates. Read more

Shifting the Supply Curve for Loanable Funds to the Right

Keir Martland

In my last article, I pointed out some flaws in the Keynesian circular flow of income. In summary, Keynesians are incorrect to discourage savings and to encourage government spending, and their attitudes towards imports and exports can only be termed “mercantile.” The conclusions of the Keynesians logically follow from their representation of the economy as a circular flow and economic growth as increased spending on aggregate production.

I promised that in my next article I would explain why credit expansion doesn’t relieve us of the task of saving, but is instead behind our present economic malaise. As I alluded to A-level economics last time, I shall do so this time, too. Everyone, get your pens and paper at the ready.

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