The taxes discussed here go under a variety of names — indirect taxes, expenditure taxes, sales taxes, consumption taxes — all of which mean more or less the same thing. For the UK they consist of VAT which is a general tax, and specific duties which are imposed on a limited number of goods and services. They are collected by HM Customs and Excise. They are often seen as taxes on pleasures, but they fall on essentials such as toothpaste and shoes as well as on drink and tobacco. They provide over 30 per cent of tax revenue, and the problem of getting the right balance between efficiency and equity arises for these taxes just as much as for income tax.
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