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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

GUARDIAN CALLS FOR US-STYLE TAX CUTS! Impossible I hear you say. Read here and be amazed. Unsurprisingly it's not advocating tax cuts to roll back the frontiers of the state and encourage economic growth and a society of individual responsibility. It only asks for tax breaks to enable more charitable giving, specifically in the arts. It would be great if this could really work:

With changes already enacted since 1997, charitable giving through tax effective methods has jumped nearly 25% to £2.3bn. But the long term goal should be to match the US, where individual giving amounts to 1.75% of GDP, or $183bn a year. The equivalent here would be £17bn, about two and half times what we give to charity now.

I'm not sure we'd achieve quite the same return rates as happens in the US, because in the US the old tradition of philanthropy and charitable giving has not been interrupted and allowed to atrophy in the same way that happened in Britain in the post-war period. But I'm optimistic that with a few years of such new taxation rules these older traditions of voluntary commitment of money to the social good could be reinvigorated. The advantages of smaller government and a more human face to the provision of social goods are clear so let's hope this happens. Coincidentally, the Tories could do worse than fully endorse this, might help to improve their chances of getting a vote from me.

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