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Britons do not support higher taxes

One of the basics is that you don\’t believe what people tell you. You watch what they actually do as a guide to their desires, not what they\’ll spout. In economics, revealed preferences.

And one of the arguments going on at the moment is about how much Brits are prepared to pay in extra taxes. From opinion polls (some more validly worded than others) we might think that lots are prepared to pay lots.

Leave aside that sneaky feeling that in reality lots are prepared to say that others should pay lots.

Compare and contrast instead how many actually pay extra taxes as compared to those who say they\’re prepared to.

Well, there are in fact some. And \”lots\” is a relative term. But we do in fact know how much taxes are too low by.

£1,000 a year.

No, that\’s not £1,000 per person. Not per family, it\’s not £1,000 million, it is simply and exactly £1,000 for all 65 million of us each and every year.

That is, taxes are too low by something like 0.00000016%.

And how can we find this out? Well, a UKIP councillor has updated something I did for The Times back in 2006. Gone and asked, how many people made voluntary donations to the costs of government, over and above their legitimate tax bill?

And the answer provided to Councillor Richard Lowe? The answer is in full here. Just over £7,000 in the 7 years from 2002 to 2009.

Or £1,000 a year.

So, err, sorry lefties. No, there is no evidence that by their actions, Britons actually desire to pay higher taxes. Well, not more than a collective £1,000 a year at least.

10 thoughts on “Britons do not support higher taxes”

  1. Most people do not pay tax from some misguided altruistic spirit, they pay because the government pins them to a wall and places the barrel of a gun against their skull.

  2. Tim
    Interesting stuff. Not wanting to quibble, but the letter he reproduces also shows another 250k in bequests. Doesn’t really change the point, but strange he didn’t mention it…


  3. whoops, actually something like 1.5m – this omission of bequests might explain the difference between his figures and yours from a single year in 2006.

    Or are these bequests something else? E.g. unresolved estates left without a will or heritors?

    Tim adds: No, proper bequests. Intestate stuff pops up elsewhere in the national accounts (can’t remember where, sorry).

  4. Neal, he does say in the blog entry “how much was donated by those alive from 2002 to 2009.”

    Which is fair, as the point he is making is that the super-rich lefties he lists as saying we should all pay more tax are strangely not dipping into their own rather deep pockets.

  5. This is ridiculous, of course no one gives money to the govt voluntary because of their current attitude. If people knew their donations would be shared and spent wisely more people would do it, and a culture of voluntary donation could thrive.

  6. Tim: I’m not sure revealed preferences fully applies here. I’m fairly sure most people would pay no tax at all if they could do so legally (without changing life circumstances by emigrating or earning nothing) – but at the same time they’d probably rather, at the very least, that a level of tax were levied that paid for army/cops/legal system/other basic things that actually allow capitalist society to function.

    Rich B: who is Round, and to what does he object?

  7. Dick – you’re right, he does say alive – but bequests are usually made by people who are alive! (they just don’t actually happen until they die).

    anyway, its still interesting

  8. @Neal: there’s a bit of a difference between ‘Have this money when I’m dead and no longer need it’ and ‘Have this money now, even though I could spend it on myself’.

    That’s apart from the fact you can change your will, but I doubt the Treasury would give you back a donation if you changed your mind afterwards………….

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