Tax cuts for the wealthy come with limits
LONDON | Britain’s finance minister has cut the rate of tax the country’s wealthiest citizens will pay, but he insisted the rich will pay more through a raft of measures to prevent tax avoidance and a punitive new charge on expensive property sales.
In his annual budget statement Wednesday, George Osborne said he was cutting the top rate by 10 percent by April next year, arguing that the original higher rate did not yield as much as expected — partly because the rich were able to avoid tax.
Mr. Osborne sought to deflect any criticism that any largesse was confined to the wealthy by announcing a big hike in the level that Britons start paying tax to $14,500. The cost of that measure will cost the Treasury about $5.3 billion in 2013-14.
“Within the United States, there are going to be a lot of voices, in Congress and in the public, saying, ‘How can we provide food aid when the North Koreans renege on their promises?’ “he said.
He declined to comment on whether his country would try to shoot down the missile if it breaches South Korean airspace in its trajectory over the Yellow Sea.
The North and South have coexisted in a technical state of war since both sides signed a 1953 truce that ended overt hostilities in the Korean War. In recent years, the North has killed 50 South Korean troops and civilians in military actions widely condemned by the international community.
Mr. Lee, whose administration has taken a hard line on the North’s regime, expressed hope that other regional players — namely China, which is North Korea’s No. 1 trading partner and political ally, and Vietnam — will prod reform in Pyongyang. Both countries have implemented capitalistic reforms that have invigorated their economies.
The South Korean leader also placed hope in momentum for reform inside North Korea.
“We attach a lot of hope that change can happen within the North Korea people,” said Mr. Lee, 70. “This will inevitably influence the North Korean leadership.”
While North Korea is one of the world’s most isolated, repressive regimes, the collapse of its central state distribution system in the late 1990s gave birth to a primitive market economy and a nascent merchant class.
What’s more, the North’s increasing cross-border trade with China has enabled an increase in imports of illegal South Korean TV dramas, films and pop songs, cracking Pyongyang’s once-formidable information wall.
Asked whether he would be willing to follow the example of his two predecessors — Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun — in holding high-profile summits with the North’s new leader, Mr. Lee was cagey.
‘A fuller picture’