In “My Cupboard is Bare” (Letters, Socialist Standard, November) the letter writer states many inaccuracies – “he doubled the income-tax burden on the poorest earners in society.” – “The working-poor, whose income-tax he doubled, do not bother to vote, (as he knows) for we, the low-paid, realise that there is no-one worth voting for.” – “Middle-England, on middle incomes, voted Labour into power, and for that voting-base income-tax was reduced in an attempt to retain support for the Labour.” – “If the British government makes yet another “mistake” of having ordinary hard-working British citizens bail-out British banks and the greedy millionaires who helped cause the problem…”. This might be worthy of comment.
We published the letter as an expression of opinion by a discontented worker. We agree that it is inaccurate to imply that income tax is a burden on the working class and that it is workers who are bailing out the banks.
Workers are exploited at the point of production but are paid more or less the value of the working skills they sell, i.e., enough to buy what they need to reproduce and replace them. If the government imposes a tax on wages, this will eventually, after a struggle, be passed on to employers as the cost of reproducing the workers’ skills will have gone up.
In any event, in Britain, most workers don’t even personally pay income tax as they do other taxes by going to the post office or writing a cheque as this is deducted at source by the employer and paid by them to the government. In this case what is important is take-home pay. This said, when the government does change income tax the take-home pay of some individual workers can go up or down for a time, and did go down in the case the letter writer mentioned.
Although the money to bail out the banks will have ultimately come out of the surplus value extracted from the working class, it has not done so directly – the capitalist employer extracts the surplus value, part of which is paid to the government as taxes, some of which was used to bail out the banks – Editors.