People in the UK want wealth taxes

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I share this press release from Tax Justice UK this morning, whose advisory board I serve on:

Clear majority of British public support higher taxes on wealth - new poll 

New polling from Tax Justice UK and Oxfam, conducted by YouGov, shows widespread public support from across the political spectrum for increasing taxes on wealth.

The organisations say this would help to tackle inequality and raise revenue that could be used to fund public services and fight poverty.

The poll, published ahead of Conservative Party Conference, shows that more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of Brits thought that earnings from wealth should be taxed at the same level as, or more heavily than, earnings from income.

Robert Palmer, Executive Director of Tax Justice UK, said: “Tory and Labour voters, Remainers and Brexiteers, all support greater taxes on wealth. This should be a no brainer for any government. Failing to back this policy wouldn't just be bad economics, it would go against the grain of public opinion too.”

In addition, just over half (52 per cent) of those polled said they would support or strongly support the introduction of a new tax on net wealth over about £750,000, which would be paid predominantly by the wealthiest people in the UK. More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of those who expressed a preference support such a tax.

A number of countries have net wealth taxes. Spain, for instance, taxes net wealth over about £750,000 at a rate starting at 0.2 per cent and rising to 2.5 per cent for wealth over £12 million. Oxfam has estimated that applying this model in the UK could raise around £10 billion a year which could be used to fight poverty at home and overseas.

Oxfam’s Head of Inequality Campaigns, Rebecca Gowland, said: “This poll suggests strong public backing for concrete action to deliver on what the Prime Minister has called the Government’s ‘fundamental moral purpose’ — to bridge the wealth and opportunity gaps within the UK.

“We urge the Prime Minister to use his speech to the Conservative Party Conference to set out what he will do to close the gap between the haves and the have nots. At a time when millions in the UK are struggling to escape poverty and when more money is needed to protect people from climate change, the government needs to ask itself whether it can afford to ignore such a popular and untapped source of revenue.”

There is support for fairer wealth taxes from all sides, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, former Conservative Minister Lord David Willetts, the Institute of Fiscal Studies Director Paul Johnson and the Institute of Public Policy Research.

The IPPR recently calculated that increasing the rate at which capital gains are taxed to the same rate as income could raise £90 billion over five years.

Currently, wealth is often under-taxed compared to taxes on income from work. In the UK, tax raised from wealth remains low at about 4 per cent of GDP compared to 15 per cent from taxes on income and 11 per cent from consumption.