“The rich must pay their share” leads nearly every news bulletin quoting Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and the batty Greens, competing over who can most stoke up resentment and demonise the ‘the rich’.
Who says that the rich are not paying their share already?
It is outrageous that no one is asking this; that they can carry on smearing ‘the rich’, whoever they may be, as though we were on the brink of another French Revolution.
So here is a reminder about who they are and what they pay; facts that these politicians (including the wet and defensive Conservatives) seem to have forgotten. Funny since they were only published last November:
- The highest paid 3,000 people in the UK pay more income tax than the bottom nine million.
- The very highest earners – amounting to just under 3,000 people with a declared income above £2.7 million – will contribute 4.2 per cent of the total Government revenue from income tax in the current financial year. By contrast, Britain’s nine million poorest paid workers contribute less than four per cent of the total income tax receipts.
- The top ten per cent of earners pay more than 55 per cent of the total income tax.
- The rich pay more under this Government than under Labour.
- In all 29.9 million people pay income tax in the UK but almost one-third of income tax payers contribute less to the Exchequer than the top 3,000 earners – equivalent to 0.01 per cent of the total.
- In the last tax year, the richest shouldered a greater share of the burden than any time in history, even though the top rate of income tax was reduced from 50p to 45p in April 2013.
- The not so very rich – those paying at 40 per cent (who have risen steadily from just over 1.7 million in 1993/4 to 4.4 million in the current tax year – a staggering one in six of taxpayers) include teachers, bricklayers, police officers and tube drivers. I wonder if Messrs Clegg and Miliband think they are paying their share? They must be rich, after all they pay tax as though they are.
The idea that Britain’s richest people are avoiding paying tax is just nonsense. The truth is that the super rich are shouldering a greater tax burden than ever before. These are the top 0.1 per cent of earners – about 30,000 people with a minimum declared income of £670,000. They earn five per cent of the total income but pay 11.3 per cent of all income tax. This, the Institute of Economic Affairs has calculated, adds up to a contribution of about £18.8 billion in income tax to the Exchequer – equivalent to the entire budget of the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice combined.
What the politicians should be worrying about is not how rich they are but how so many have become so dependent on so few. They should worrying that so many people are free riding and paying no tax at all. They should be examining the total failure of recent tax policies designed to narrow the gap between rich and poor, but which have only succeeded in widening it. I am talking about the cumbersome and expensive tax credits introduced by the last Labour government.
As well as challenging the Left’s corrupt and negative politics of grievance, the Conservatives should urgently rethink the wisdom of taking millions more people out of tax altogether – something I assume they were pressured into by the Liberals. My best bet is that this attempt to narrow the gulf between the rich and poor will also only serve to widen it – which will not seem quite so wonderful when the overburdened rich, on whom the State has become so dangerously dependent, decide they have had enough. Sick of keeping the defunct British welfare state on the road, which they neither use nor approve of, they may well decide to quit the country altogether.
That is what has happened in France.