Using national insurance to fund social care is regressive and unfair

If fairness is the criterion by which to judge a tax (Editorial, 3 September), we would never really have introduced national insurance. It’s both an income tax and an employment tax; it’s regressive; it’s not paid by those above the state pension age; it incentivises the construction of imaginative subcontractor avoidance schemes; and it requires its own collection and recording scheme.

Why not, in the name of efficiency and fairness, abandon NI and replace it with simpler taxes on income and profit? This would ensure that those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden (since income tax is progressive). It would widen the tax base – income, whether through work or a pension, becomes liable for tax, independent of the age of the recipient, and employers become subject to tax by reference to the profits they earn, rather than a headcount of employees. Of course, headline rates of income tax will jump, but the resulting tax would be more fairly spread across all taxpayers (particularly because replacing a regressive with a progressive tax ensures the less well-off pay less).

If, in the search to fund the NHS and social care, there is a real debate on whether to use NI or income tax, perhaps the time is ripe to think outside these confines and do the fair thing: stop the pretence that NI is an insurance scheme, accept that it is just another tax, decide to simplify the whole system, make it fairer and ensure that its collection is more efficient.
Adrian Darnell

Re the plan to raise national insurance to fund the increased costs for health and care (Report, 3 September), it always was the poor paying for the poor. Is it now the poor paying for the middle classes to keep their houses?
Janet Briffett

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