How an Apple sales tax would fix the economy

iPhone 4
"iPhone 4? That'll be £15,000 please"

We're living in scary times. In this week's budget George Osborne explained just how bad things have become.

The public coffers are empty, and that means we need to make sacrifices. The school leaving age will be reduced to six. Hospitals will no longer treat you unless you're spurting blood or other fluids. Benefits will be slashed, the unemployed will be forced to eat one another and Wales will be sold to the highest bidder.

So does Britain look like an outtake from The Road, with people chewing on babies and mugging one another for half-chewed Mars bars? Nope. We're all queuing outside Apple stores, and Vodafone stores, and Orange stores, and Carphone Warehouses.

At a time when the UK's so broke we might have to start being nice to the French in the hope they'll toss us the odd baguette, it seems that many of us can not just afford to spend thousands of quid on a phone that can't make phone calls, but that many of us are willing to queue for hours to hand over our cash as quickly as we possibly can.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

I think you are.

Apple tax.

I'm not talking nine quid on an iPhone or £15 on a top-end iPad, which is what January's VAT increase will mean. That's nothing. I'm talking the kind of tax you'd pay on a solid gold Range Rover powered by brandy.

We tax all kinds of expensive and unnecessary purchases, from the massive amounts of duty on cigarettes to the showroom taxes, road taxes and petrol taxes aimed at gas-guzzling 4x4 owners.

Apple kit is just as unnecessary and overpriced, and just like taxes on smokers and SUV drivers you can put the tax rates right up without making anybody change their lifestyle. When fuel prices started to rise, truckers brought the country to a standstill; if Apple prices were similarly stratospheric, we doubt it'd even dent sales of skinny lattes.

Apple fans will love the tax

The beauty of the Apple Tax is that many Apple owners take pride in paying too much for their kit, so if you make it even more expensive you'll make them even happier.

"Your laptop only cost three hundred pounds? That's rubbish! Mine cost two grand!" they'll cackle. "Your smartphone was free, doesn't cost much per month and easily makes and receives telephone calls? You oik!" they'll say. "My one was two hundred up front, another eight hundred per year, and won't let me talk to anybody!"

Don't believe us? People are queuing today for no other reason than so they can say "first!". They don't care that better iPhone 4 deals may come along next month. They don't care that reports are already emerging of manufacturing issues causing dodgy displays on early iPhone 4s. And in at least one case, a friend of ours, they're queuing for a new iPhone because their existing one is really, really unreliable. "This is rubbish! I must spend a fortune on a new one!"

Bear in mind that this is a phone which, according to Walter Mossberg, works best if you have a second phone for making and receiving calls with.

Given the choice of taxing everyone in an Apple Store queue or burning pensioners in wheelie bins to heat our homes, an Apple tax is a no-brainer. Britain's broke. Apple fans are affluent. Let's tax them till their iPads squeak.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.