Income Taxation

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As you can see there have been some changes, some more obvious than others. Firstly, the main editorial responsibility has been transferred to Stephen Torr. His former column on accounting will disappear to become an essential element in the overall publication. This for the reason that accounting belongs to a no-man’s land as regards economic ideology, even that associative economics. No one, except perhaps Luca Pacioli and those who grasp the deeper meaning of double entry bookkeeping, can capture this area of economic life. And if they do, what do they capture? An instrument of perception, a way of looking into economic reality. Something that, like the wheel, cannot be claimed as the intellectual property of any one person, group or organisation. It is also cross-party and cross sector.

The second change is a revamp of the journal as an electronic document in the first place, comprising various sections much as before, except now they are stand-alone articles and the aim is that each entry has a 100 word commentary that serves as an abstract, with the body of the text limited to approximately 900 words, so that the style (but not the content!) will be ‘light’, not weighed down by too many references, but signalling where readers can go for longer items or more information.

Each edition will now turn on a ‘sign of our time’ taken from the media, an event that illustrates the presence of or need for an associative understanding of economic life. The general topic is introduced and given a context in the lead article, then answered in terms of a feature piece (or pieces), detailing a specific associative economic policy proposal or example or case study. When appropriate, an archival piece reminds us of how the general topic being considered has been addressed in the past, including the recent past of earlier editions of this journal.

Thirdly, there has been a step change and a subtle shift of emphasis. The step change is to strengthen the policy relevance and practicability of associative economics. In part, this is in response to those (see leter on AEX Page) who have found previous editions too abstract, though whether we have remedied this remains to be seen! The shift in emphasis is to say more directly that associative economics, at least in its outer expression, links economics to accounting (see this month’s Victor’s View).

Finally, while we will retain our universal and pan-historical brief, so that we do not become caught on the passing moment or too local an instance, we have centred ourselves more in the UK in order to come closer to the all-important influence that stems from that country’s economic thinking and policy. While it is often the case that Britain’s American cousins grab any new ball and run with it, often with a tenacity and aggression not normal for those on the British side of the pond, and that it is useful for the more ‘noisy’ half of the partnership to take the flak of implementation, the seminal ideas often originate in London. We hope to nuance this influence in a direction that is more associative, not in an outer ideological sense, so much as in the subtleties of policy; but also through the all important change made possible if people, using their own activities and their own balance sheets, effect changes at the ‘micro’ level that imply similar changes at the ‘macro’ level.

As regards this edition, the theme is income taxation. Stephen Torr sets the stage for the topic as introduced through the ‘sign of our time’ – the complaint in the UK about tax avoidance by big corporations. The piece by Rudolf Steiner focuses on two related matters – expenditure taxation and inheritance tax. Steiner’s comments were made nearly 90 years ago when the state was by no means the player in economic life that it has now become – a fork in the road to which we should perhaps return. From the archive, Richard Rettig, writing in this journal in 1994, provides a survey with the aim of reforms that would remove tax uncertainty, with its many deleterious consequences for a healthy social and economic life.

In this and other regards, our treatment of taxation (1:2/1994, 11:12/1995, 12/2006, 3/2007) has been consistent, though we recognise that it challenges many assumptions, or rather habits of thought, such as regression, tax competition and tax harmonization, that we hope to take up on another occasion.

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