ICAEW Chart of the week

Following last week's chart on the changing profile of public spending, our chart this week shows how taxes have changed over the past sixty years.

Despite income tax rates being lower, the overall share from taxes on income has actually increased. Although income tax and corporation tax have declined as a proportion of total tax, the increase in national insurance (another form of income tax) more than makes up the difference.  

However, the most dramatic shift has been in customs duties. These are now less than 1% of total tax receipts, compared with the 18% they generated back in the day. At the same time, local taxation in the form of business rates and council tax (which replaced domestic property rates) has declined to less than a tenth of the total.

The revenues from these taxes have largely been replaced by VAT, now a fifth of the total, together with a plethora of new taxes, including insurance premium tax, environmental levies, air passenger duty and the bank levy to name just a few.

With tax receipts (excluding other income) in 2018-19 equivalent to 34% of GDP, compared to 31% in 1988-89 and 30% in 1958-59, the shift over time demonstrates a key principle of taxation: if one tax doesn’t get you, another one will.

Anonymous