Dear Nadhim Zahawi: here’s what patriotic British millionaires do – we pay our proper taxes | Julia Davies

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LTo begin with, let’s be clear: the latest Nadhim Zahawi scandal isn’t just a trader forgetting a job or two writing the books. This is the man in charge of taxation, who he says has been “careless” in complying with the rules he was appointed to oversee. The attitude of HM Revenue and Customs, which concluded that the failure was “negligent and not intentional”, also fails to impress.

The least we can expect from a finance minister is for them to be diligent in adhering to their own rules, but then Zahawi was appointed by Rishi Sunak, a prime minister whose family also took advantage of convenient amenities available only to the very richest.

As a patriotic millionaire, part of a multi-industry network and from diverse backgrounds who want a more equitable, stable and inclusive economy and the end of extreme wealth, I see taxation as an investment in our public services and would like more tax as a person with the privilege of wealth.

These are not just minor mistakes – they are symptoms of a ruling political elite that is rotten through and through; symptoms of politicians who think they don’t have to play by the same rules as their constituents. Every time this government is caught in anti-social behavior and fails to impose its own sanctions, it is sending a signal that anti-social behavior is OK. It’s not. Being “careless” about paying taxes owed isn’t just a little cheeky, it doesn’t make you a moron or a smart businessman. But that is the message this administration seems to be portraying.

Paying taxes pays for our NHS, cares for our pensioners, educates our children and defends our country. It is not optional, and people with wealth are in a privileged position to contribute more. Those who subsequently fail to pay or are “careless” about paying their legally required share should be declared unfit to rule.

The low-tax, small-state dogma that this administration still blindly clings to is an outdated concept. It was never fit for purpose, and with the scale of the crises stacked on top of each other, it certainly isn’t now. Not only is it old, discredited economics, it’s also irresponsible and contrary to family values. It disappoints our aging population and it totally disappoints our young people. We need a government to step up and address the many crises facing the British people – from dangerous climate change to crises in the cost of living, energy, healthcare and social care.

We need a government that treats taxation as an essential investment, not a dirty word. We need a government that stops taxing the richest people in society as off-the-cards. For too long we have expected too little from the ultra-wealthy, assuming they must be conceded; that we shouldn’t ask too much of them or they’ll pack up their toys and leave in a huff. That’s not good enough. We don’t accept that attitude from our children, so we shouldn’t accept it from rich people, or the political elite who set the rules in their favor. Plus good luck getting a London manor or a grouse in your suitcase!

Minister cannot say whether Zahawi was telling the truth when he first said taxes had been paid in full – video

We are asking more and more of the working people who hold our society together. It is the UK’s social fabric, public services and workers that have made our wealth and made the UK a great place to live. Those of us who are wealthy can and should be forced to invest more through taxation.

The wealthiest in society (including you and me, Rishi) are the only people who can invest on the scale needed to tackle the many crises we face and turn our struggling NHS and creaking healthcare system around. Investing in the rapid transition needed to slow dangerous climate change and biodiversity collapse. We cannot rely solely on the private sector for this. If we could, we wouldn’t be in the hopeless situation we’re in now.

For those of us fortunate enough to be able to afford this, we all benefit from paying more taxes to invest in public wealth and welfare. It’s a patriotic thing to do – not an optional “nice to have” that people like Nadhim Zahawi can be “careless” about. There are more and more patriotic millionaires who believe in doing the right thing, the patriotic, and using some of their wealth to pay more taxes for the benefit of all. Rishi Sunak, please listen to us.

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