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September 9, 2011 10:18 pm
Sir Stuart Rose has hit back at fellow high earners who want to see the 50p tax rate removed, insisting it is “only fair” that the wealthy do their bit to help the economy in tough times.
The former executive chairman of Marks and Spencer told the Financial Times that he believed it was the “wrong thing to do” to give rich people in society a tax cut when lower earners were not enjoying such breaks.
The debate over the 50p tax rate was reignited this week when 20 economists wrote to the FT calling for an early abolition of the temporary tax rate. The CBI employers’ organisation has issued a similar plea and Tory backbenchers are putting pressure on George Osborne to scrap the tax.
Sir Stuart said: “I saw that letter in the Financial Times about reducing the tax rate. I don’t know whether the thesis is proven or not proven, but at the moment, politically, it is the wrong thing to do if at the same time the government is not offering a quid pro quo for lower taxpayers.”
He added he would even be prepared to pay more tax to help the country’s finances. “We should take a bit of the pain. I was brought up in a fair-minded family that believed in that. I am not a political animal but I believe in common sense and fair play.”
Sir Stuart’s comments will give support to the Liberal Democrats, who have championed raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 before offering other tax cuts – a policy backed by the coalition. This week Danny Alexander, Treasury chief secretary, went further by saying his party’s ambition was that nobody in a full-time job earning a minimum wage should pay any income tax – an aspiration that implies a threshold nearer £12,500.
Sir Stuart admitted his was a lone voice. “I am rather disappointed with a number of mates who are 10 times, a hundred times richer than I am, who seem to think their tax rate should come down."
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