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Offline Red Kite

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Tax those 4x4s
« on: 07/08/2006 11:15:35 »
Good news today from the Environmental Audit Committee about the possibility of taxing those Chelsea tractors and looking at some kind of tax on avaiation. Although they should really be looking at taxing avaiation fuel.

Now the Government need to stop talking about these things and just get on and do it!


 

another_someone

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #1 on: 07/08/2006 12:50:26 »
Cannot tax aviation fuel for a number of practical reasons.

Aviation fuel is airside, so does not come through customs.

If you tax aviation fuel too high, all that means is that aircraft refuel elsewhere – bigger problem, as it may mean that aircraft end up carrying more fuel than they need, which itself is wasteful of fuel.

Someone want to tell me what a 'Chelsea tractor; amounts to?

What you really mean is you would be happy to tax people who live in Chelsea.  The fact that the same tax may well apply to people living in places where they actually need 4 wheel drive vehicles is another matter.

If the issue is about taxing fuel consumption, then as you say about aircraft, where possible, it makes more sense to tax fuel.

Taxing vehicles rather than fuel simply means that anyone who can afford to own a vehicle has very little additional cost associated with the usage of the vehicle.  Do you not gain more benefit (if you want to minimise fuel usage) is to tax the usage of fuel, rather than taxing ownership of vehicles.

But then, as has been indicated in the jargon used, and is so common about discussion about taxation, it is about taxing 'someone else' because they deserve it and you do not deserve being taxed.  Taxing fuel may make it more difficult for you to use the vehicle of your choice (which may be a super sports car with a 5 litre engine, or a Rolls Royce, but it wont be a 'Chelsea tractor'), whereas taxing someone else's vehicle means they pay tax, even if the vehicle is just sitting in the garage, and you can clock up as many miles as you like without paying a single penny extra on your tax.



George
« Last Edit: 07/08/2006 12:54:22 by another_someone »
 

Offline Red Kite

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #2 on: 07/08/2006 15:36:11 »
What was announced today is merely a welcome step in the right direction, nowhere near what I would like to see and not comprehensive enough to achieve what needs to be achieved. Until the technolgy is in place and the political will is there to introduce some national scheme whereby people are charged for the number of miles they clock up then the carrott and stick approach of getting people to choose more fuel efficient cars is the best available provided the money raised goes back into improving the public transport mechanism.

As for the comparison between 4x4 usage in the country and in cities, well those in the country who need them for work clearly shouldn't be charged more, those who see them as a status symbol for taking little Harry and Camilla to school in the mornings should be charged more!
 

another_someone

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #3 on: 07/08/2006 18:08:43 »
Not at all welcome in my opinion.  It follows the trend with this government of targeting niche groups rather than targeting the underlying problem (if there is any).

I am not at all convinced there is a primary problem with CO2 – there is as much problem with a reduction is global dimming.

But, even if one does believe there is a problem with carbon usage, then you target carbon use, not selected users.

While I did raise the practical and legal problems with raising tax on aviation fuel, I do agree with you that the fact that it is free of duty does skew the market and create anomalies.

On the other hand, all the efforts to target certain groups of car users, rather than just taxing the use of fuel uniformly, only goes further to skew the markets.  This skewing of the market means that fuel used by 'public transport' is free of tax, fuels used for domestic consumption is only 5% VAT + carbon tax (which is also applied to nuclear generated energy), while fuel used for private motor vehicles over 50% tax.  It is all the same carbon – if you want to manage carbon usage, you tax it equally, and let the market decide how to use the available carbon more efficiently.  If you skew the taxation system, then the market cannot function, and people using carbon in one way are allowed to be more wasteful that people using carbon in another.

The suggestions made seem to do nothing to make the system simpler, more transparent, and more focussed, but simply do more to complicate the system and create ever more anomalies.



George
 

Offline crandles

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #4 on: 08/08/2006 14:48:49 »
To some extent I agree with George. It would appear to make sense to tax the carbon use equally and not distort things with a tax on vehicles. That way, if a family would do less vehicle miles with 2 vehicles rather than 1 vehicle they should be encouraged to get 2 vehicles rather than one. This would help the economy and the enviroment. The car tax discourages getting 2 vehicles rather than 1.

However, I don't think it is as simple as saying just tax the carbon use and let the market decide. If the only problem was the carbon's greenhouse effect or that global warming was so casastrophic that it was by far the main problem then that would make sense.

If on the other hand you consider that the problems are more like:

The economy is the most important immediate problem with the greenhouse effect expected to become a problem in future but is not so important as to require drastic action immediately.

Then what is the appropriate response? You don't want to take action that will immediately harm the economy but doing nothing isn't a good idea as it leaves to much to do in too short a space of time. Therefore you don't want to tax people out of using vehicles as that harms the economy too much. Instead what you might aim for is changing attitudes and making gas guzzling vehicles seems antisocial rather than being a status symbol. People will still be able to do everything they want (just with more efficient vehicles). The economy will find replacement status symbols so that won't harm the economy (or at least very little compared to taxing carbon).

Basically in this scenario it makes sense to only go for the low fruit first and this is the wasteful gas guzzling vehicles. A car tax to get people to change from buying wasteful vehicles to efficient vehicles while not taxing usage that might harm the economy too much is sensible.

So whether the proposals make sense depends on your view of the seriousness of the greenhouse effect compared to the economy.

I doubt this discussion is likely to change George's views.

I am basically anti-extremist. I will argue against people claiming global warming is going to be catastrophic. However, I will also argue against people who claim global warming isn't real.

In this case, I am concerned that George is using any arguments he can find to argue against any action at all. That seems rife in that last post - blame the government for doing the wrong thing. To support that argument he has to start by assuming carbon is a problem.

quote:
I am not at all convinced there is a primary problem with CO2 – there is as much problem with a reduction is global dimming.


That also seems an argument of convenience. While global dimming is offsetting global warming he would probably claim the net effect is not serious. When they are acting together, it is convenient to blame as much as possible of the effect on the reversal of global dimming.

I could be wrong about George's real thoughts, but the above is the way the last post appears to me.






 

another_someone

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #5 on: 08/08/2006 16:07:23 »
I did make it clear that I am not a proponent of the greenhouse gas theory, because I felt it only fair that people know where I stand on that matter, and allow myself to be open to criticism by those who consider that to be a factor in my thinking.

It is true that I believe the objective the Government are trying to achieve in this is one I do not agree with, and so would as well that they brought no legislation in on the matter at all; but I also have a much wider concern, not only about this proposed legislation, but about the nature of government, and the nature of legislation introduced by this Government in particular.

I am a computer programmer by trade, which means that I have been indoctrinated with the notion that if you want something to work, you keep it simple, and you make sure the underlying processes are obvious and transparent.  When you have a problem, you fix the underlying problem, you do not merely tinker with those corners of the problem that have come to your immediate notice, while ignoring any other aspects of the problem.  And, when you do fix the problem, the same principles apply, keep the fix simple.

As I said, I may well disagree with the diagnosis, but given that the doctor has decided on a particular diagnoses, rightly or wrongly, I certainly disagree with the sticking plaster approach to the treatment of the supposed ailment.

Your argument that tackling the underlying carbon consumption directly rather than this piecemeal approach would be more expensive for the economy, I would disagree with.  What they are doing is obscuring a lot of the cost, but at the end of the day, these costs, whichever way you do it, will filter through the entire economy, and the extra complexity will simply introduce lots of anomalies, and lots of administrative overhead, which itself needs to be paid for.  Taking the simple and direct approach may make the costs far more obvious and apparent, but is that really (from the economic management, rather than the political perspective) really a bad thing?



George
 

Offline crandles

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #6 on: 08/08/2006 17:33:47 »
I agree with what you say about the inappropriateness of this governments sticking plaster approachwhich obsures things more than clarifying them. But I am not sure that this applies to the current suggestion of raising car tax. You think there will be 'lots of administrative overhead' but given the car tax system already exists and already has different rates for different vehicles, I don't see this proposal causing lots of extra administrative overheads.

Given a choice between:
1. Guiding people towards more efficient cars, different status symbols and allowing people to do the vehicle miles they want, and
2. Taxing people into doing fewer miles, which mean it is the poor who are taxed off the road and possibly this prevents some of them getting to work causing more on the dole.

Which do you think is most detrimental to the economy?

FWIW I do very few miles so from my financial perspective I would prefer the arguments to come out in favour of lower or no car tax and more tax on fuel.
 

another_someone

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #7 on: 08/08/2006 18:19:15 »
quote:
Originally posted by crandles
But I am not sure that this applies to the current suggestion of raising car tax. You think there will be 'lots of administrative overhead' but given the car tax system already exists and already has different rates for different vehicles, I don't see this proposal causing lots of extra administrative overheads.



The taxation system per se is in place, it is the constant meddling as to which car belongs into which band that is the issue.

At present, not so long ago, we went from a flat rate road tax, to a graduated scale based upon nominal CO2 emission.  We are now talking about changing the scheme to tax vehicles based upon which market sector they belong to.

The notion of an SUV is a marketing play, not a clear-cut definition.  What are we talking about?  Are we talking about vehicles which have permanent 4 wheel drives (there are some vehicles that have exactly the same design that have 4 wheel drive versions and two wheel drive versions, and some vehicles that can switch between 4 and 2 wheel drive, and some saloon cars have 4 wheel drive versions – how do you tax them)?  Do you tax them by ground clearance or overall height?  Do you tax them based solely upon some branding that the manufacturers put in the sales literature?

quote:

Given a choice between:
1. Guiding people towards more efficient cars, different status symbols and allowing people to do the vehicle miles they want, and
2. Taxing people into doing fewer miles, which mean it is the poor who are taxed off the road and possibly this prevents some of them getting to work causing more on the dole.



And you think people who need 4 wheel drives are all rich?

It is always a mistake to enshrine a technology solution into law – politicians don't know anything about engineering, let alone what engineering solutions may arrive tomorrow.  Having traction on 4 wheels can actually improve fuel consumption (although the present drive trains that feed power to 4 wheels actually lose more power than the improvement in traction would gain; but future technology might well reverse this balance).

Many poor people actually drive low mileages in big and inefficient cars.  The reason for this is that poor people cannot afford to buy new, so they buy cars that are getting to the end of their lives, and the big cars last better.  Most of the people I see buying Smart cars or hybrid cars tend to be yuppies, not least because there are not many yet filtered through to the second hand market, and because these new technology cars tend to have a higher purchase price.

Furthermore, if one is actually looking towards substantial changes in the nations fuel economy – this has to be done with changes in the behaviour of the masses.  Merely changing the behaviour of a handful of very rich people will never make a great deal of change to the overall resource usage of the nation as a whole.  If you need to make these kind of changes, it is naοve to believe it can be done painlessly by merely taxing a few of the many.

quote:

FWIW I do very few miles so from my financial perspective I would prefer the arguments to come out in favour of lower or no car tax and more tax on fuel.



At present, since I have not had much work lately, I too have not done much mileage, but equally I cannot afford to buy a new car.  I can control my mileage easier than replace the car (which I bought when my finances were in a better state).  If I cannot afford VED, then it simply means I become carless rather than simply drive a few miles less.

Incidentally, if I do have to sell the car because I cannot afford the VED, you can imagine the number of potential buyers for the car would also have diminished by the increased VED, and so there is very little money I would get for the car.

As with all taxes, the rich are always the ones who can easiest manage their affairs to avoid taxes, while the poor are the ones stuck with the taxes.  In the days that I changed my cars every 3 years, so a change in tax regime would only effect me until the next change of car in about 18 months, and in any case my fuel costs were so high that even a doubling or tripling of VED would have scarcely have been noticed.



George
« Last Edit: 08/08/2006 18:38:39 by another_someone »
 

Offline VAlibrarian

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #8 on: 09/08/2006 22:48:59 »
I am interested in this topic of taxation as regards global warming, as I recently read several books by scientists on the topic of global warming, plus the one by Al Gore (who is a former politician, not a scientist).

I begin by stating that global warming is an absolutely real physical syndrome, and will in future decades result in serious problems that will effect our economies, our insurance rates, and in some cases our survival. Most scientists will tell you this.
The odd thing is that nobody is doing anything about it. Scientists are still busy trying to convince us that global warming is real. In some cases, (you will note another someone's comments above), they are not succeeding. Many people do believe the scientists, but even those people are not doing anything about it. Why? Because everybody is free to do nothing about it. Therefore we all assume that global warming is not that serious, because if it were that serious our government would be doing something about it. Wrong. Our governments tend to follow us, not lead us.

I would welcome a carbon tax even though I am not a wealthy person, because we will continue to do nothing about this problem until it rises up and kicks us all in the ***. If nothing else a carbon tax  would end this period that I think of as another "phony war"- the period at the beginning of World War II when horrible things were on the way but life carried on in a surreal fashion as if all were normal.



chris wiegard
 

another_someone

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #9 on: 10/08/2006 00:31:16 »
quote:
Originally posted by VAlibrarian
I begin by stating that global warming is an absolutely real physical syndrome, and will in future decades result in serious problems that will effect our economies, our insurance rates, and in some cases our survival. Most scientists will tell you this.
The odd thing is that nobody is doing anything about it. Scientists are still busy trying to convince us that global warming is real. In some cases, (you will note another someone's comments above), they are not succeeding.



You have consistently stated that I do not believe global warming to be real, and I have consistently stated that I believe it is not only real, but  has been with us for three and a half centuries.

Where we diverge is on the cause, not on the measurable outcome.

quote:

I would welcome a carbon tax even though I am not a wealthy person, because we will continue to do nothing about this problem until it rises up and kicks us all in the ***. If nothing else a carbon tax  would end this period that I think of as another "phony war"- the period at the beginning of World War II when horrible things were on the way but life carried on in a surreal fashion as if all were normal.



We actually already have something labelled as a carbon tax in this country (introduced in the last few years).

As I stated above, my concern with the proposed policies is, despite the fact that I don't see carbon emission as the major factor in global warming, so I don';t believe tackling carbon emissions will have a great impact upon global warming (a lot of effort and expense with little benefit to show for it), but more directly, that the piecemeal nature and complexity of the proposed legislation will not even achieve the goal of making a great impact on carbon emissions, but will cause lots of effort by people to sidestep the new taxes rather than actually doing anything positive.

I also disagree with the notion that such a tax will hit the rich harder than the poor, and so in some way will soften the blow of reducing carbon emissions in a way that only the rich will pay the price for lower carbon emission.

Yes, it is an attempt to appear to do something – but as with all politics, it is more about appearance than reality.

Nobody has actually thought through the real impact of the tax – they have only thought about what 'signals' the tax will send out.



George
« Last Edit: 10/08/2006 00:32:30 by another_someone »
 

Offline VAlibrarian

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Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #10 on: 10/08/2006 20:41:28 »
Well, I will admit ignorance to the state of affairs in the U.K. regarding steps to combat global warming. You of course are participating in the Kyoto process, unlike we denizens of the USA.

I will agree with you that it is a daunting prospect to construct any policy that would discourage use of fossil fuels in an equitable way. But in my view that difficulty should not stand in the way of trying.

I will further admit that rapidly expanding use of fossil fuels in China and India threatens to undo all the good that is being done by the few small efforts being made to reduce use in advanced industrial societies. However I also feel that my nation's (USA) unwillingness to even join the discussion gives a green light to China and India to do whatever they wish. If the USA were actually dealing with the problem in any way, we could speak to the developing world with some kind of moral authority and perhaps stand a chance of getting results.

chris wiegard
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Tax those 4x4s
« Reply #10 on: 10/08/2006 20:41:28 »

 

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