Osborne's Annual Tax Summary: A Conservative marketing tool ?

George Osborne's new Annual Tax Summary promises a revolution in paying tax. Is it a victory for democracy, or a genius marketing tool ?

This week sees the start of millions of taxpayers receiving personalised annual summaries to show where their tax money has been spent over the past year.

The statements are being sent to 24 million taxpayers in the UK, in a move set to “improve the transparency of the personal tax system.”

Announced as part of the 2012 Budget, Chancellor George Osborne said the statements would “show how hard-working taxpayers have to pay for what governments spend… People will know what they are paying – and what they are paying it for.”

However, there has been criticism from the TUC, stating that the move is little more than “party political propaganda.”

After reading all of the information regarding the statements, it is certainly clear to see why the TUC have made such a statement.

Over recent years, the Conservatives have made some of the biggest cuts to welfare spending that many can remember, with further cuts expected to be announced in the next budget.

Cuts in housing benefit, the introduction of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments, and the use of harsher restrictions on Job Seekers Allowance have all been part of the Conservative’s attempts to make work more desirable than seeking benefits.

However, it has been argued by many that to legitimise this, the government have spent the last few years demonising benefits’ claimants, referring to unemployed people as shirkers during one of the worst economic crises since World War II, and forcing disabled people to undergo tough assessments to determine their eligibility to claim.

Osborne’s Annual Tax Statements will tactfully ignore the VAT payments that each of us make on the majority of our purchases, which was increased to 20% in 2011.

It will also lump all of the benefits together, and won’t show how tax money contributes towards separate payments such as Job Seekers’ Allowance, pensions and in-work tax credits, amongst others.

By doing this, the Conservatives will no doubt be able to use the anger people will have towards a percentage of their income going towards ‘feckless shirkers’, while they are unaware that the majority of welfare spending is on pensions: in 2011/12, only 3% of welfare spending went to Jobseekers’ Allowance, 8% to Disability Living Allowance, and 46% towards state pensions.

It’s clear that at a time that the Conservatives feel the need to cut benefits spending even further, they are seeking new ways to legitimise their ability to do so, ensuring that vocal members of the public outraged at tax spending do their job for them.