Well off may have a right to inactivity

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From Mr Stuart Southall.

Sir, If, as your editorial suggests, “there is a case for ... a system that taxed trapped wealth to reward activity” then you have not really made it (“Wealth taxes and the politics of envy”, August 30).

What some might regard as “trapped wealth” could for others simply be seen as the result of prudent business success and accumulations made from the fruits of fully taxed activities. And the wealthy retired have in most cases earned their right to inactivity, so where is the case for any further fiscal imposition on them?

Your headline rightly alludes to the “politics of envy” but you choose not to pursue that line further. It is a deeply worrying trend in modern politics and those who will have it that the wealthy active are not pulling their fiscal weight should perhaps ponder that in the UK the top 1 per cent of earners contribute nearly a quarter of income tax receipts and the top 10 per cent well over half. No doubt the same groups are contributing the lion’s share of capital gains tax, and those who are entrepreneurs are responsible for generating significant pay as you earn and value added tax receipts as well.

As Howard Davies writes on the opposite page (“A wealth tax may work once but don’t make it a habit”), the European trend is away from wealth taxes and the UK would be foolish to swim against that tide.

Stuart Southall, East Horsley, Surrey, UK

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