Billy Bragg has launched a Facebook campaign, NoBonus4RBS, calling for UK taxpayers to withold taxes unless Chancellor Alistair Darling limits bonuses for RBS investment bankers to £25,000. The Press Association have reported the story thus:
Billy Bragg is refusing to pay his taxes unless the Government curbs the "excessive" bonuses at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The singer-songwriter and political activist is urging the public to withhold tax payments to "convince the Treasury to act".
RBS, which is 84% owned by the taxpayer following a string of bail-outs, is expected to pay up to £1.5 billion in bonuses to its investment bankers.
Bragg, 52, has launched a Facebook campaign, urging people to fire-off letters or email Chancellor Alistair Darling over the issue of bonuses at the part-nationalised bank.
He wrote on the social networking website: "I understand that the Treasury had little choice but to use taxpayers' money to safeguard savings and stabilise and restore confidence in the financial system.
"What I don't understand is why, now that we taxpayers are the majority shareholders of these banks, we seem totally powerless to curb their excessive bonus culture?"
Bragg, who released the hit album Talking With The Taxman About Poetry in 1986, said: "I believe that the Government have their priorities wrong. I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, to inform him that I am no longer prepared to fund the excessive bonuses of RBS investment bankers. Unless he acts to limit them to £25,000, I shall be withholding my tax payment on 31st January."
Referring to the Facebook campaign which stopped X Factor winner Joe McElderry reaching the top of the charts at Christmas, he wrote: "If nothing else, we may discover if people in this country care more about banker's bonuses than they do about who will be the Xmas No 1."
Asked about the prospect of going to jail for refusing to pay his taxes, Bragg said later: "I'm hoping it won't come to that. This is to draw attention to the issue. Either we own 84% of the company or the entire thing is a sham. I'm fed up of no-one doing anything about it."
A Treasury spokesman said: "We can reassure Mr Bragg and anyone else that there will not be big bonuses paid with taxpayers' money at RBS. Taxpayers' capital will be completely protected."