Friday 21 July 2017

Taxation and Representation

"No taxation without representation," they say. This rarely applies. EU citizens not living in their home state seem particularly badly done by here. Millions live in other EU states, paying tax there, and can only vote in local elections. They can vote in national elections neither in the state where they reside nor the in the state from which they come. An exception appears to be the French presidential elections. 

How different might the results of the June 2016 referendum have been if British nationals living in other EU states and citizens from other EU states living here had been able to vote.

We have many reciprocal tax agreements not only with other EU states but also with other countries including the US. For instance, I'm taxed in the UK on my earnings from This is fair on me as I have no representation in the US. There is a slight oddity here, though, as is serviced by the US yet I pay nothing towards this. Perhaps it's partly made up for, though, by the Americans who earn from but pay no tax here.

More worrying are the number of people living and paying tax in a state who have no representation in that state nor indeed in their home state.

Could we not have some sort of system where the resident chooses whether to have election rights in their home state or in the state where they live and pay taxes? This would be rather like university students electing to vote either at their term time or holiday address.

There is an argument that you actually need representation in both places: you need to have your say about where you live and about what your home state is doing – after all, they may be about to make some big changes about your rights e.g. Brexit. Might is be an idea to let you have a split vote? Perhaps your vote could count as just 50% in both places. Or you could even choose to split it as you see fit – say 10% / 90% in favour of either place? Surely we have the technology to make this easy enough? 

There is an alternative. We get rid of all national barriers and national leaders become regional ones. Brexit and its associated confusion would disappear overnight. Come on United Nations – take the lead on this.      

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