How stealthy does a tax have to be to qualify as a "stealth tax"?
Does it need to be Stealth bomber stealthy, or will common or garden urban fox levels of stealth be sufficient?
How many people have to know about something before it no longer qualifies as stealthy? Or can something be universally recognised and still qualify as stealthy on the grounds that it was trying to be stealthy but failed miserably because it just wasn't very good at stealth? Like a grounded nuclear submarine. Or a ninja elephant.
The Sceptic Tank is only asking because by any rational measure the changes to the government's Carbon Reduction Commitment that have been widely slammed as a "green stealth tax" really aren't that stealthy.
In fact, as far as stealth goes the government's decision to drop the revenue recycling element of the CRC, raising an estimated £1bn for the Treasury in the process, is akin to a cat burglar knocking on your door and informing you that he is about to nick your TV.
The announcement was included in the Comprehensive Spending Review, highlighted in a press notice sent out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change on the same day, and has been discussed openly by coalition ministers for much of the past month. It hardly constitutes Machiavellian levels of stealth.
It is a green tax, pure and simple. Just like the green taxes that both the Lib Dems and the Tories said they would increase in their pre-election manifestos and just like the green taxes that progressive business leaders claim to agree with in principle. The fact that it hurts some businesses is kind of the point, it is meant to hurt – it is the pain that encourages them to improve their energy efficiency.
In fact, the only example of stealth in this whole sorry saga comes from those people describing as stealthy a tax that is anything but.
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