The Sunday Times [£] today has a first leader, bewailing
This is not a serious government
Most of the bewailing and bemoaning focuses on Nick Clegg. Which, in general, is fair and reasonable. Only when we get down to detail does the argument seem a trifle dysfunctional in itself:
Earlier in the year [Clegg] mused about a tycoon tax which led to the budget mess on tax relief for charitable donations. Now he wants another tax on the rich although he knows the top 1% already pay 28% of income tax …
Two glaring mistakes there:
1. The cock-up that was the 2012 budget mess is entirely down to one person, and it’s not Clegg. It’s the presumptive heir to a wallpaper fortune and the Osborne baronetcy of Ballentaylor, in County Tipperary, and Ballylemon, in County Waterford.
2. That bit about the top 1% already pay 28% of income tax must be the most elastic of statistics going. It application seems to depend on how far it is intended to frighten the horses:
In February 2011, Henry Wallop for the Telegraph had:
Top 1pc of workers pay quarter of all income tax
A quarter of all of Britain’s income tax revenues this year will be paid by just one per cent of earners, according to official data.
This was justified on the basis:
HMRC published its forecasts for all income tax revenues for the current tax year. It suggested that 275,000 individual, those that will pay the 50p rate, will pay £41.4 billion in tax – 25.7 per cent of the country’s total income tax bill.
Meanwhile, in February of this year James Chapman for the Mail reckoned on more equine fright:
Highest-earning 1% pay £47 billion a year… almost a third of all income tax
The highest-earning 1 per cent of Britons pay almost 30 per cent of all income taxes, according to research.
The 308,000 on the 50p top rate – who earn more than £150,000 – pay £47 billion a year to the Treasury.
Since 2000, the share of tax paid by the highest earners has risen from 22.2 to 27.7 per cent.
Interesting that: the Mail is usually yelling about the innumeracy of school students; but here we see:
Almost a third = almost 30% = 27.7%.
What’s the odd seventeen percent difference (33.3 — 27.7 = 5.6 = 16.8% of 33.3) between friends? Doubtless the Mail works to the same number system as Representative T.I. Record, who attempted to make the value of pi officially equal 3 (but that was back in 1897, and applied only in the State of Indiana).
The official HM Revenue & Customs 2012-13 figure for the top 1% is 24.2% of all tax, contributing £15.5 billion to the national tax take. Significantly lower than any of the horse-frighteners above.
For comparisons sake, Michael Meacher did a piece for the Guardian on 31 May 2012:
The richest 1% of the population own a quarter of total UK wealth, and the richest half control no less than 94% of total wealth. Ownership of land is even more skewed: 69% of it is owned by 0.3% of the population.
If that’s correct, it means the richest 1% take about a quarter of all income and are paying just under a quarter of the income tax.
So where’s the unfairness?