Boris Johnson: liar

Boris Johnson has been out meeting, or possibly pretending to meet, the public. He found a head council sweeper, and grilled him, or possibly pretended to grill him, on how much tax he paid.

"For a fortnight’s work… he received gross pay of £542. He had to pay tax of £161, and then National Insurance contributions of £86. And then he had to find about £50 per fortnight for his council tax, because he was in Band D, and therefore paying the thick end of £1,200 per year. Add it all up, and it strikes me that my new friend the road cleaner is paying well over 50 per cent of his income in tax."

Now, I lived on the same, not-very-high wage as the sweeper when I was a novice journalist a few years ago, so this immediately triggered my bullshit detector. And it was right to do so: Boris’s claim that his new friend is paying income tax at 30% plus National Insurance at 16% plus council tax at 9% is absolute nonsense. On an annualised income of £13,550, a single man with no other allowances pays tax at an annual rate of £1,694.70 plus £969.98 in National Insurance. Adding in council tax produces a total tax bill of £3864.68, or 28.5% of his income. [*]

Boris Johnson is lying. The Tory policy of scrapping council tax revaluations is insane. And this is priceless: "Who is he paying for, this man who sweeps our roads? He is helping out of his small income to pay for the myriad people who have been hired by the Labour government to work in the public services". Err, yeah. I guess it’s possible that Boris’s friend is a private freelance sweeper…

[*] Figures calculated here (not 100% reliable, but not far wrong). And I know that I’m not counting employer-side NI – should anyone be bothered to work out what difference that makes, I’ll happily post it as an update.

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21 thoughts on “Boris Johnson: liar

  1. My ire has been raised by someone I was talking to yesterday who is helping a local MP with his campaigning … apparently they have been doing ‘false canvassing’, which involves going round and putting ‘Sorry! You were out when we called!’ cards through people’s doors without knocking, then running away before they can engage you in conversation. Odd. Why not just send a mail-shot?

  2. You’re right John.
    Even if we be charitable, and state that the 541 is the Nett then the tax would be 124 and NI 66.
    Proper balls up I would say.

  3. THe Telegraph never seems to check these things. Last year it published a story saying the average middle-income earner’s tax bill had doubled under Labour. It did this by assuming said earner moved house EVERY year.

    On the numbers though surely he earns 14092 a year?

  4. I though perhaps Johnson had calculated it on the basis of 542 a week, but that’s too high. The curious thing is his tax and NI are correct if you earn 25,000 a year, or nearly 1,000 a fortnight.

  5. You’re lucky Ally… My ultra-blairite Labour MP, apparently (and rightly) scared to come and meet us, employs telephone canvassers…

  6. I bet he’s seen the payslip but when he went back to the office to write it all up he’s confused the week and fortnight, and then checked the rates using the wrong amount of pay.

    It would have been a good story even without the inflated claims, but Boris has bungled it again. If it was all a lie you’d think he’d have made sure it all added up. With plenty of people ready to scrutinize these sorts of comments he wouldn’t want to have got them wrong.

  7. If he was making $542 a week, rather than a fortnight, then he’s making £28 184 a year. I estimate (based on the rates at the Inland Revenue page) that this gives him a income tax bill of £94.50 a week, or £185 a fortnight. Perhaps I’ve missed some complication out, but that means his mistake isn’t simply a swapping of week and fortnight. He’s completely messed this up. Why didn’t The Telegraph check the figures? Why didn’t the Tories (or at least his own people)? [Insert smart-ass comment about MSM here.]

  8. Notwithstanding the above, people on low incomes are paying too much direct and indirect tax. It’s almost obscene. Income tax, VAT, excise duty, insurance tax, the list goes on and on. How can the low paid be expected to save when a large chunk of their income is removed at source and then further dimished in real terms when they come to spend it. Instead as we all know it’s taken from them so the nanny state can hand back what it feels should be returned.

    And it is not just those on low incomes but also those on middle incomes who are relatively highly taxed. The really rich meanwhile are able to send their money off shore or invest in various tax free schemes such as VCTs EIS etc.

  9. Look, simple things to remember. If government spending is 40% of GDP then — by and large — taxation has to take 40% of people’s incomes, as only people earn money. So there’s your benchmark.

  10. The marginal tax rates of the poorest 10% of pensioners and of single-parents in part-time employment with childcare costs are over 70%. That’s pretty sickening from a Labour government.

  11. "The marginal tax rates of the poorest 10% of pensioners and of single-parents in part-time employment with childcare costs are over 70%."

    Until you expand that to detail the range of wage for which it obtains, it’s spectacular but almost valueless.
    If you’re a single parent in part-time employment with childcare partly paid (thanks to the Govt – Tories contributed nothing) then there’s a point of earning at which that allowance is withdrawn, sure. So there’s a band at which the loss is 70% of the increase. But only up to the (previously zero thank you Mr Lamont) allowance; then the marginal rate is back to 33%. Then down to 22% for a bit.
    But tapered benefits are bloody complicated and require either more employer admin of PAYE or more IR admin expense.

  12. This sounds like balls to me. I would be flat out amazed if the poorest decile of pensioners paid any tax at all. Except VAT, obviously, but there is no "marginal rate" of VAT.

  13. Alright, marginal rate probably isn’t the best way to describe it, but Dave is right – there comes a point at which benefits are withdrawn which amounts to much the same thing as a whopping great tax increase.

  14. I’m pleased to say I’ve almost solved the problem. The actual total tax should be 70 IT, 40 NI, and 50 CT. This sums (with rounding) to 161 pounds, BJ’s estimate for just income tax.

    So to be generous he might have written down 161 as the total, then got it confused with just the income tax. However, it doesn’t explain the 86. The only explanation for that is he asked a researched to look up what NI you would pay if you paid 161 income tax.

    This just about works, though it relies on the researcher not realising that to pay 161 income tax you need a salary of over 25,000, which on most tax calculators would be hard to avoid.

  15. Your Wrong, YOUR ALL WRONG!!! Boris Johnson is the future of this country and subsequently the future of the world. The man’s a legend in his own time and a jolly nice chap. I dont think he even knows HOW to lie. He may get muddled, confused or be easily mislead from time to time, but never outright lieing. He’s a decent man and someone you’d all do well to be more like. Besides, your arguments are not valid as you are into stalinism!!! I dont expect anyone who morally backs such a vindictive and (in fact) utterly useless dictator of a regime pretending to hold to a philosophy, but actually not even touching upon comunism at all.

    [i realise that some of my arguments may seem odd, wrong or misinformed. this is entirely because I didn’t read the majority of the website before hand.]


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