Can you tell the difference between a tax and your gas bill? Maybe. You can save on the gas bill by turning down the thermostat, or, come to that, pay a bit extra to turn it up and pamper yourself.
The tax you pay depends on whether you employ a wily accountant, perhaps how honest you and he are.
You cannot vary it by using the National Health Service less, or more.
But that is about it. Utility bills and taxes have exactly the same effect on your economic behaviour.
They leave you with less money to spend on everything else.
Next month we shall dis-cover whether the members of Bank of England's monetary policy committee can bring themselves to believe all that. If they don't, they will almost certainly bump up interest rates.
This is because, unlike direct taxes, gas and electric-ity bills count towards inflation and they have sent it blasting through the Bank's two per cent target.
James Cooper at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry argues that this is no reason for raising interest rates, because money drained off in utility bills is not there to spend on other things, just like tax money paid to grasping Gordon.
If the Bank then extracts more still in higher interest rates, the economy will suffer.
The Bank itself has taken the view so far that utility-induced inflation should cure itself. This autumn, last year's round of gas and electricity hyper-increases will fall out of the 12-month reck-oning and the 12-month rate of inflation will ease back accordingly, without the Bank's committee doing anything except keep up the masterly inactivity it has exercised since last August.
Next summer the same thing should happen again as this summer's bumper increases drop into history and that will be the end of it.
So it very well may - with two provisos, first that we have no more trouble with utility bills, and secondly that we get by without a round of wage increases to pay them.
Don't be too sure about either. There are warnings of a gas shortage again this winter if it gets cold - in which case the bills take a third leap. From 2008 there are meant to be new terminals to handle enough imports to put a stop to shortages and whatever fiddles gas companies get up to on the Continent. But 2008 is still some way off.
As to pay, so far it has been remarkably subdued. The EEF says most manufacturing deals are coming in close to three per cent. Gordon and his side-kick at the Treasury, Ed Balls, talk about holding public sector pay rises down to two per cent.
So, with the consumer price index inflating by 2.5 per cent, anyone with a three per cent increase is still just ahead of the game.
But if the public sector unions really settle for two per cent their members will lose buying power.
If you are old-fashioned and prefer the retail prices index, inflation is 3.3 per cent and nearly everyone is being squeezed.
They may wear it, they may not. Remember, now Lord Levy's been rumbled, Labour needs union money all over again.