Rapid responses

Debt calculations

[Re: A case of lies, damn lies and our rocketing national debt, yesterday]

It’s unsurprising that so few know the difference between the deficit and debt. The really shocking story is the way the government calculates its liabilities. The very first lesson in any accounting course is reflecting reality, and using accounts to give stakeholders information about the state of an organisation. The government should therefore be including its wider long-term debt – including pensions – in its books. The Office of National Statistics estimate pension liabilities at £4.1 trillion. The implication of this omission is that we aren’t being realistic about the fact we can’t afford the benefits many have grown to expect.

Larry Black

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Tax avoidance

[Re: Politicians need to stop moralising – and reform our taxes, Tuesday]

Corporation tax has been found out yet again. In the 1980s, the company I worked for used royalties and intangible asset licenses, payable by the UK seller of goods to its Luxembourg parent, for the purpose of minimising its corporation tax payments in the UK. So more recent antics are nothing new, and the outrage of George Osborne and others is simple populism. You might as well abolish corporation tax, or at least introduce a very low rate while taxing net distributions in their totality. Frankly, if companies aren’t willing to work in line with such a simple system, I’m happy to bus them to London Heathrow myself.

Matt Gash

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TOP TWEETS

Good news. Personal allowance up to £9,440 from April 2013. Pensions up 2.5 per cent. Benefits rise restricted to 1 per cent.
@theresecoffey

The Lib Dems are increasingly marginal in this government. No mansion tax, no progress on a small business bank.
@ChukaUmunna

George Osborne is taxing the rich, and taking more on small incomes out of tax. The middle classes are caught in a squeeze.
@c_lewington

It’s great news that Osborne has cancelled planned fuel duty rise. It’s a credit to everyone who demanded this from their MP.
@mjhsinclair