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We OAPs have no right to moan about the Granny Tax

The so-called "Granny Tax" has raised a right big stushie.

It's also raised a wee stushie over the name. Why not the more correct "Grandparents' Tax"? Well, that certainly doesn't trip off the tongue quite as smoothly.

Then there's all that dratted stuff about apostrophes.  I suppose too that "Granny Tax" is some consolation to the exasperated women who have to put up with all those careless references to "mankind" and "manning the office" and so on.

Most of all though, "Granny Tax" has a wonderfully emotional appeal.  It does conjure up the picture of an old lady in a threadbare shawl, shivering by an empty grate while villainous bailiffs bang on her front door demanding she sell off her knickknacks to raise the tax.

It's a PR disaster for the Westminster Coalition and lots of us will enjoy its discomfort in the years to come as it tries to shake off its new image as a cold-hearted gang of vicious "Granny Bashers".

As a pensioner myself, I'm also inclined to oppose anything at all that appears to be "anti-elderly".

I'm tempted to follow the lead of the mature VIPs – Richard Wilson, Prunella Scales and Joan Bakewell among them – who have publicly declared their opposition to this "Granny Tax".

It's especially galling too that the receipts from this measure will be used to fund lower taxes for the most wealthy. It does stick mightily in the throat of the elderly that their lives are made tougher so the Tories can reward their rich supporters.

However, let's put to one side all the emotion, the political point-scoring and the handouts to the undeserving rich. Having done so, I can't really see why older people should have higher personal tax allowances than the rest of the population.

Presumably the higher tax allowance for pensioners was in recognition of the extra costs of being old. But there are extra costs involved in being single, in being new parents, in being middle-aged with teenage children……why have a special, higher tax allowance for one particular age group?

There are other ways to respond to specific needs in society. After all, the elderly enjoy a range of benefits which younger age groups are denied. We can't have all those age-related privileges – and a special tax allowance on top.

Correspondents on HeraldScotland have rightly pointed out that the "Granny Tax" measure makes our tax system even more regressive than it was before.

They also rightly point out that it will impact most heavily on pensioners with very modest incomes who up to now have paid no tax.

But the way to address these problems is through more fundamental action. For example, by making the tax system generally more progressive.

We could start by raising the tax free personal allowance substantially taking all the less well-off out of taxation – not just the elderly with modest incomes.

We oldies can't have it all. We should pay our taxes like everyone else. In these straitened times too, we should be seen to be doing our bit.  Pensioners have much to complain about.  But the Granny Tax isn't one of them.

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