Tax Freedom Day – the point in the year where average taxpayers have earned enough to cover all their taxes and at last can start earning for themselves – will fall on 1 June this year. That is two days later than in 2005, and over a week later than in 2003.
The Treasury now takes over 40% of the National Income in taxes – income tax, VAT, capital taxes, company taxes, inheritance taxes, and all the rest. That is 152 days’ worth of the average taxpayer's annual wages.
Despite Gordon Brown’s avowed ‘prudence’, the tax burden rose as soon as he took office, to near-record levels in 2000-01. Rapid economic growth then saw wages rising faster than taxes, but over the last four years, the burden has begun to rise rapidly again.
The tax burden is also a postcode lottery. Taxpayers in Wales work eight days less for the tax-collectors than the national average (until 23 May), but Northern Ireland residents have to work much longer (until 5 June). Taxpayers in England are spot on the national average (1 June) while those in Scotland enjoy their tax freedom earlier (26 May).
There are significant variations within England, too. Lightest taxed are Eastern England and Yorkshire & Humberside, with a Tax Freedom Day of 24 May, and the North East, on 29 May. The West Midlands is relatively lucky with a date of 31 May, while the North-West and South-West taxpayers have to work a day more, until 1 June. Highest taxed are the South-East (3 June) and London (5 June).