At the end of this month Chancellor Gordon Brown will replace Tony Blair as Prime Minister, but before he takes over the reigns of the country he'll leave a financially crippling legacy.
For over ten years Gordon has controlled the finances of this country, and according to City accountants Grant Thornton, he's squeezed households out of an extra £1,600 in tax rises – that's the equivalent of an extra 10p in the pound on the basic rate of income tax!
For the average British family, Grant Thornton's figures show they are paying around £30 a week more into the Government's coffers than 10 years ago. In addition, official figures show that the number of higher rate taxpayers now stands at 3.5 million, a 58% increase since 1997.
The findings were published on the eve of "Tax Freedom Day", the day of the year when workers start to earn money for themselves rather than the taxman. In the 1960s, this day fell on April 24, and by the time our Gordon came to power in 1997, it was May 27. Now however it's June 1.
The City accountants said that the Chancellor's favourite trick of 'fiscal drag' was to blame, where the tax threshold is raised more slowly than earnings are rising – so that workers end up paying a higher proportion of their income in tax. Around 7p out of the 10p can be attributed to this sneaky trick. "Silently the tax take continues upwards with fiscal drag raking in yet more revenue year on year. If income tax allowances had risen in line with earnings, then the average taxpayer would achieve tax freedom a lot earlier in the year," said Francesca Lagerberg, Head of Grant Thornton's National Tax Office.
Some critics were even less complimentary: "Gordon Brown has hammered the middle classes with stealth taxes ever since he became Chancellor," commented Corin Taylor, research director at the Taxpayers' Alliance campaign group. "First it was our pension funds, then he turned to our homes. This 'tax, spend and waste' ratchet has got to stop."
Oh dear Gordon, hardly a legacy to be proud of.
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