Poll: public against tax avoidance


by Newswire    
3:02 pm - April 14th 2009

      Share on Tumblr

A YouGov poll commissioned by the UK’s centre-left pressure group Compass has demonstrated overwhelming public support for the government to close in on personal tax avoidance which is estimated loses up to £15BN of public money each year.

The results reveal that 77% indicated they agree that the government should do everything it can to close this £15 billion gap lost through personal tax avoidance.

In further support of the Compass call for greater tax fairness in the 2009 Budget:

- 71% agree with a new wealth tax on earnings above £250,000;
- 61% agree that the Government should break its 2005 manifesto commitment not to increase any rates of income tax and immediately introduce a new top rate of income tax for all those earning above £100,000 per year;
- 52% agree with a new tax on all bonuses above £1000.

With the financial crisis and with public borrowing rising fast the poll results pile even more pressure on the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling and embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown to ensure the government delivers greater tax fairness in the forthcoming Budget and therefore that any necessary tax increases are imposed on the very wealthy.

This Wednesday from 6pm Compass (with the support of The Fabian Society, Tax Justice Network UK and The Other Tax Payer’s Alliance) will stage a major Tax Justice rally held at the TUC. Speakers include: Treasury Minister Angela Eagle MP, Jon Cruddas MP, Kate Green of Child Poverty Action Group, Richard Murphy of Tax Justice Network UK, the TUC’s Adam Lent, PCS Deputy General Secretary Hugh Lanning and the Fabian Society’s Tim Horton.

Gavin Hayes General Secretary of Compass said:

There can be no turning back to the pre-crash tax system, this poll vindicates what we’d thought all along, delivering greater tax justice is both radical and popular: whether it’s closing in on personal tax avoidance, introducing a new wealth tax on those earning over £250K, immediately introducing a new top rate of tax on all those earning over £100K or a new tax on bonuses, these are just the sort of measures the government needs if it is to win back voters. The Chancellor must now demonstrate he’s on the side of the many not the few, it’s time he stood up, took decisive action and made sure the wealthy pay their fair share.

Leading Compass MP and former Labour Deputy Leadership contender Jon Cruddas said:

The public outrage over the economic downturn coupled with the outcry over the excesses, unchecked wealth and risky behaviour of those at the top that caused the financial crisis, has shown that we can no longer afford a pre-crash tax system that rewards a powerful elite at the top, that is why this poll has demonstrated that policies to ensure the very wealthy pay their fair share resonate across the political spectrum and is the new common sense of our time.

More at the Compass website.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author

· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Think-tanks ,Westminster


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


“52% agree with a new tax on all bonuses above £1000.”

That’s not a particularly high bonus figure, I suspect more than just the rich would be hit by that. Has there been a typo?

In shocking news, the public think that OTHER people should pay more tax.

It would be more interesting to see how many people would support a flatter tax which by its very nature abolishes tax-loopholes.

#1 – perhaps it’s a typo, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t. Most people don’t have bonuses as high as £1k, and 52% is not a sizeable majority.

4. Mike Killingworth

[2] Yes, I’ve occasionally thought of e-mailing polling companies to ask them to quote me for including just that question: “Do you agree that taxes should be paid by everyone except me” (these days you can answer by pressing a button on the pollsters’ gizmo, so need to be ashamed…)

It would serve as a good proxy for selfishness, I guess, and the cross-tabs by Party preference and likelihood to vote would no doubt be great fun…

Seeing as bonuses are already reduced by income tax putting another tax on them seems unduly punitive (especially if they’re already covered by the 40% rate).

“It would serve as a good proxy for selfishness, I guess, and the cross-tabs by Party preference and likelihood to vote would no doubt be great fun…”

It would be a fun question to run, but let’s not fall into the trap that voting with self-interest is always invalid – surely it depends whose self-interest it is?

Break their manifesto committment? Even if I disagreed with a policy verhemently, I wouldn’t want a manifesto promise broken. I wouldn’t mind at least a vague attempt at honesty in politics.

8. Mike Killingworth

[5] Yes, agreed. It would set an awkward precedent – at the moment if HMRC classify it as income then tax is payable on the amount not the source. I would want to see the public policy case for using the tax system to induce employers to increase basic pay and cut bonuses – how would Performance Related Pay fare under such a system? (Personally, I’d exempt it since most of it is Compliance Related Pay and reflects merely the fact that your current boss thinks your face fits…)

“It would be more interesting to see how many people would support a flatter tax which by its very nature abolishes tax-loopholes.”

Good idea.
Let’s start it at 50% and then give a rebate (say £5k?) to everyone?

Anyone able to guess how much extra revenue that would bring in, theoretically?

#2 & #9:

Outside of right-wing-fantasy-island, does anyone have any idea how much worse off a family on working tax credit would be?

@tim f — Maybe it would need a series of increasing rebates over the basic, universal one, to compensate for comparatively low earners?

What would be the total tax take if the basic rebate was raised to £10k?

12. david brough

So much for “libertarians” representing the general public. Of course they’ll all be here soon, moaning about how they know better than us.

You will never get the rich to pay their ‘fair share’. They will get their accountants to exploit more loopholes. The more laws you pass, the more loopholes there are. And in the end, when they get tired of exploiting loopholes, they will leave.

You can put them under house arrest and confiscate all their assets if you like; you can even shut down tax havens and force Grand Cayman to open up its vaults. Knock yourselves out. But don’t expect them to lay golden eggs for you next year.

Flat tax rate? Hmmm, let’s see – how about a rate of 35% but that doesn’t start until people have earned 13k? No, make that 18k a year.

Why don’t we just go back to communism – and then all of you will be happy.

How fair is it to make the ultra rich pay 52% tax when they don’t use any of the services – eg they pay expensive public school fees, never use public trasport, have their own security etc etc etc Talk about unfairness…..

“Flat tax rate? Hmmm, let’s see – how about a rate of 35% but that doesn’t start until people have earned 13k? No, make that 18k a year.”

I think I would go with that, compared to what we have now.

17. Mike Killingworth

[15] It is just as fair – no more and no less – as it is to expect gay people to pay for the education of straight people’s kids.

“How fair is it to make the ultra rich pay 52% tax when they don’t use any of the services – eg they pay expensive public school fees, never use public trasport, have their own security etc etc etc Talk about unfairness…..”

Well in that case they won’t need the vote then. Better trolls please

End the loopholes.
Take the poor out of tax.
I would happily pay (some) more tax if the result was a higher threshold for paying tax – say 12k.
It is ridiculous – but typical of Brown – that people on minimum wage pay tax and then have to try to get it back through the lunatic tax credit system.

£15bn personal tax gap? What utter cobblers. That is 10% of the total income tax take. (p187 http://hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/bud08_completereport.pdf).

With respect to “bonuses” I am all for linking pay to profitability. The Tories tried a scheme of tax incentivised “profit related pay” where the idea was that in a downturn wages could be trimmed rather than jobs lost. That doesn’t appeal to everyone but when you have a reasonably well paid job and are in your fifties then it can seem a whole lot more attractive than the dole.

A bonus is similar – you have a good year, you get paid more. Sure it could be added to salaries but that just locks in costs and means that in the next downturn only one thing is going to happen to your job. There is a balance to be struck of course.

So what on earth is the justification for a punitive tax on bonuses (as distinct from taxes that rise with the total package). It’s just knee jerk ignorant popularism.

So much for “libertarians” representing the general public. Of course they’ll all be here soon, moaning about how they know better than us.

Heh.

A flat tax? Even Adam Smith was in favour of progressive taxation. I suppose I’m a nasty socialist for saying that too….

Bernard: “The Party have had an opinion poll done which shows that the voters are in favour of bringing back National Service.”

Humphery: “Well, have another opinion poll done which shows that the voters are against bringing back National Service.”

If you are not prepared to say what rate the flat tax should be then it is pointless to keep suggesting it.

personal tax avoidance which is estimated loses up to £15BN of public money each year.

So the government would take more in tax if people did things that are heavily taxed instead of things that are less heavily taxed?

Shocking, isn’t it?

There’s a good piece here by Ezra Klein:

When you look at percentage of total tax liabilities, the rich do in fact bear a heavier burden. But it’s because they have so much more money. They are not bearing a heavier burden as a percentage of their incomes. They’re bearing it in relation to everyone else’s incomes. Indeed, it’s only because the sheer levels of income inequality in this country are frankly unintuitive that Fleischer can even write this sort of dreck. People hear that the top 20 percent pay almost 70 percent of the country’s income taxes and nod their head. That’s unfair! But it mainly seems unfair because people don’t know the top 20 percent accounts for almost 60 percent of the national income.

http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=04&year=2009&base_name=the_tyranny_of_the_income_tax

Spot on.

“A flat tax? Even Adam Smith was in favour of progressive taxation. I suppose I’m a nasty socialist for saying that too….”

No, just an ignorant one.

The Adam Smith Institute has put forward a proposal for a flat tax. Personal allowance at around the full time minimum wage level (11.5 k, 12k a year level) and then a flat tax (including NI) above that. Think it was 35% as the level, a few years back and I´ve not read it again recently.

The thing is such an income tax system would be *more* progressive than the current system. It gets rid of the horribly regressive effects of NI for a start.

Whether a flat tax is regressive or progressive compared to the current tax system depends both upon what the rate is and also what the personal allowance is. The higher the personal allowance the more progressive it is. Yes, even to the point that it is more progressive than our current system.

“In shocking news, the public think that OTHER people should pay more tax.”

Quite, I once asked the Treasury how many people paid more than the tax due by sending an extra cheque to them (the address is “The Accountant, 2 Horse Guards Road, SW1″) and I was told that in the previous financial year, five people had. And four of those were dead.

So the number of people who think that, and prove it by their actions, that they themselves should pay more tax while alive is, umm, one. One out of 65 million or so.

“So much for “libertarians” representing the general public. Of course they’ll all be here soon, moaning about how they know better than us.”

I think you’ll find both left and right are guilty of this. Those on the left who are anti-monarchy and opposed to limits on immigration are widely out of tune with public opinion for example. Fact is that the mass of the public are pretty much centrist – right-wing on some issues but left-wing on others. It’s only us political anoraks who tend to be ideologically consistent.

I think Mr Worstall is confusing ‘Adam Smith’ with the ‘Adam Smith Institute’, unless the latter have added communing with the dead to their list of fantastic achievements.

It seems what Mr Smith, the person, actually wrote was this:

“It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

Now, the ‘not only’ part rather implies that the less-rich would be paying a proportion of their revenue in taxes, while the more-rich would be paying a greater proportion in taxes.

Or, in short, NOT a flat tax with a big allowance.

29. John Galt was responsible for the Bhopal disaster

A good point Neil. I wonder when any of today’s self styled libertarians will actually read any of Adam Smith’s books rather than simply renching quotes out of context to justify the sorts of greed and inequalities that would have the dude spinning in his grave.

Read Adam Smith’s books? Lord no – they can tell what the great man would think if here were alive today by reading the bumps his head:

http://www.adamsmith.org/news/news/asi-online-shop-200810142283

Whatever Adam Smith said, the big allowance bit is a good idea.

Adam Smith lived in a time when the rich had vast entrenched wealth, often handed down from the Norman Conquest. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, we now live in a free market society rather than a hierarchical landed one.

It would have made sense back then to tax the gentry on their land and assets in order to provide a stimulus for economic activity, so that capital could be redeployed to more productive uses.

But if Mr. Smith were alive today, it seems far-fetched to suppose he would support the taxing of wealthy businessmen and entrepreneurs in order to pay for a bloated public sector.

Fact is that the mass of the public are pretty much centrist – right-wing on some issues but left-wing on others. It’s only us political anoraks who tend to be ideologically consistent.

Spot on.

But if Mr. Smith were alive today

Crikey, another clairvoyant. They’re out in force today.

““It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

Now, the ‘not only’ part rather implies that the less-rich would be paying a proportion of their revenue in taxes, while the more-rich would be paying a greater proportion in taxes.

Or, in short, NOT a flat tax with a big allowance.”

A flat tax with a large allowance does just that. For ease of calculation purposes, a 10 k allowance and a 50% tax rate.

Someone who earns 9,999 pays 0% of their income.

Someone earning 20,000 pays (10k x 50%) 5,000, or 25% of their income.

On 30,000 (20k x 50%)10k, or 33% of their income.

As incomes rise average tax rates will approach 50%.

This is not in proportion to their revenue. This is something more than in that proportion.

That is indeed a progressive tax system. Just as Ol´Adam thought there should be.

(BTW, yes, I have indeed read WoN. Reread it last year actually, even the boring bits about silver etc.)

“Just as”? Where did he mention there should be 2 bands, at 0% and 50%? Or is this something your studies in phrenology told you?

““Just as”? Where did he mention there should be 2 bands, at 0% and 50%? Or is this something your studies in phrenology told you?”

What are you blathering about?

Adam, in the quote you yourself gave, suggested that the rich should pay “something more than in that proportion”.

All I´m showing is that a flat tax with an exemption is a progressive tax system. As above. For people end up paying somewhat more than in that proportion. It´s a simple mathematical truth that they do.

The larger the exemption and the higher the flat tax rate the more progressive such a system is.

Did you miss the “for ease of calculation purposes” bit there then?

“All I´m showing is that a flat tax with an exemption is a progressive tax system.”

Or, to put it another way, it’s not a flat tax at all. So why do you insist on referring to it as one? You might as well call it, oh i dunno, “doubleplusgood-progressive tax”.

Nice to hear you’re on first terms with ‘Adam’, though. How many sessions did it take to get to that stage?

“Or, to put it another way, it’s not a flat tax at all.”

Neil, please, do stop being silly.

There´s a difference between marginal tax rates and average tax rates. A flat tax system has a flat marginal rate (after you pass the exemption limit) and has progressive average tax rates.

“A flat tax system has a flat marginal rate (after you pass the exemption limit)”

And my Dad’s brother is my Aunt (if you ignore his cock).

PS. Say ‘hi’ to Adam from me, won’t you?

I’m always dubious about YouGov polls – mainly because I take part in them myself. Every time you answer a poll you get paid, the upshot of which (if most people are like me) is that you barely look at the questions you’re answering, or just put “don’t know”, just to get to the end of the thing to claim your dosh. Sometimes I do answer them truthfully if the mood takes me, and I’m sure there are many people who do, but I wouldn’t take them as an accurate indicator of what people in general think.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Poll: public against tax avoidance http://tinyurl.com/cbo6gw

  2. joe laking

    Sigh, why oh why do my links so often fail to work? Take two… http://short.to/4lgl

  3. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Poll: public against tax avoidance http://tinyurl.com/cbo6gw

  4. Johann Hari

    Oh & Labour's @TomHarrisMP says @ukuncut "out of touch". In fact 77% of Brits oppose tax avoidance by super-rich. http://tinyurl.com/2uga4j2

  5. Johann Hari

    Oh & Labour's @TomHarrisMP says @ukuncut "out of touch". In fact 77% of Brits oppose tax avoidance by super-rich. http://tinyurl.com/2uga4j2

  6. Nemesis Republic

    RT @johannhari101: Lab @TomHarrisMP says @ukuncut "out of touch". 77% of Brits oppose tax avoidance by super-rich http://tinyurl.com/2uga4j2

  7. Nemesis Republic

    RT @johannhari101: Lab @TomHarrisMP says @ukuncut "out of touch". 77% of Brits oppose tax avoidance by super-rich http://tinyurl.com/2uga4j2

  8. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @libcon: Poll: public against tax avoidance http://bit.ly/hGSoXm

  9. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @libcon: Poll: public against tax avoidance http://bit.ly/hGSoXm

  10. Jam

    RT @johannhari101: Lab's @TomHarrisMP says @ukuncut "out of touch" while 77% oppose tax avoidance by super-rich. http://tinyurl.com/2uga4j2

  11. CWU Youth

    @johannhari101 @TomHarrisMP Suspect @ukuncut very much IN touch! http://tinyurl.com/2uga4j2

  12. Sam Dodsworth

    Hearing that 77% of us oppose tax avoidance #mademesmile http://j.mp/efq2Sq

  13. Johann Hari

    @ukcuts http://tinyurl.com/2uga4j2

  14. Double.Karma

    RT @johannhari101: @ukcuts http://tinyurl.com/2uga4j2





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.