Coalition tax hikes 'to total 299'

Witney Gazette: The coalition's finance team, Chancellor George Osborne and Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury The coalition's finance team, Chancellor George Osborne and Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Taxes will have been increased almost 300 times by the coalition Government before its term of office ends in 2015, according to new research.

The Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) said it had reviewed all of the Government's tax policies and found 254 tax rises had already come into effect, with 45 more planned before the next election.

It calculated the amount of tax paid in Britain would rise in real terms by 15% as result. The TPA said its review of Treasury and HMRC documents had also uncovered 119 tax cuts, of which 10 are still to implemented.

Chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: "Families are struggling to bear an increasingly heavy tax burden. High taxes kill jobs, depress wages and increase prices. With nearly 300 tax rises since the Government came to power, it is no wonder everyone is feeling squeezed.

"The crisis in the public finances came after a decade of tax rises, not tax cuts, but politicians are still coming back for more. Endless tinkering at the edges of the tax system was a vice that George Osborne criticised in the last Government, but of which he is equally guilty now he is in office.

"Many of the coalition's hundreds of changes create just as many new complications as they resolve and every one will have affected long term investments, often in quite subtle ways. That creates uncertainty which will undermine economic growth. Britain needs more lasting, strategic tax reform and less fiddling at the margins."

The TPA said the full tax take would go from £513 billion in 2009/10 to £671 billion in 2015/16. Adjusted to 2012/13 prices, the increase is from £549 billion to £633 billion, they said.

In the detailed findings, the TPA said it was counting each change to a tax individually. It said this meant there had been 55 increases in VAT rates, and five cuts. Similarly, income tax had been increased 35 times but cut 24 times - referring variously to the position of tax bands, the level of personal allowance or reliefs, such as gift aid.

Responding to the TPA report, a Treasury spokesman said: "In 2010, the Government was faced with the challenge of restoring Britain's worst public finances in peacetime history. We have had to take difficult decisions to deal with the deficit, including to increase some taxes, but we have done this while supporting hard-working people and businesses that create jobs through tax cuts and our programme of tax reform. The Government wants a fairer, more efficient and simpler tax system in which those with the most contribute the most.

"Since 2010, we have increased the tax-free personal allowance by £2,965, cutting the tax bills of 25 million people over the Parliament, and taking 2.2 million people out of income tax altogether by 2013. In December last year, the Chancellor cancelled the January 2013 fuel duty rise, meaning that it will have been frozen for nearly two-and-a-half years by September this year, providing £19 billion-worth of support to motorists over the parliament. We have cut corporation tax from 28% in 2010 to 21% in 2014 and our corporate tax reforms have been welcomed by business and are making the UK more globally competitive."

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