Press Release: HAPPY TAX FREEDOM DAY!

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Head of Communications Flora Laven-Morris, flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 77820

TAX FREEDOM DAY SLIDES INTO JUNE AS TAX BURDEN GROWS

Taxpayers worked 154 days this year to pay their taxes, four days longer than 2015

  • Tax Freedom day falls four days later than it did in 2015
  • Brits work 154 days of the year solely to pay taxes; every day from 1st January to 2nd June
  • Tax receipts projected to be 42.27% of net national income this year
  • Government needs to cut spending and keep tax reform a priority
  • Adam Smith Institute calling on government to raise National Insurance Threshold to help lowest paid in society

Today is Tax Freedom Day in the UK, according to calculations by economic think tank the Adam Smith Institute. It is the first day of the year when Britons stop working to pay their taxes and start earning for themselves.
 
British taxpayers have worked a grueling 154 days this year just to pay their taxes, four days more than in 2015. This year also sees the date creeping into June for the first time in fifteen years, a red flag that Britons’ tax burden is moving in the wrong direction.
 
Whilst net national income has increased by £34.6bn from 2015, government has actually gobbled up £35.4bn more in taxes, meaning the government has actually left Britons £1bn worse off than last year, a reminder that tax reform must remain a priority.
 
The ASI is calling on the government to alleviate the pressure on the lowest earners in society and raise the threshold of National Insurance Contributions from £8,060 up to £11,000, the same level as income tax. Both should then be pegged to the annual salary of a full-time minimum wage worker, so low earners pay no tax on their earnings.
 
As well as helping low paid workers the threshold could even save the Government money in the long term, as many of the lowest paid would be entitled to less in benefits such as housing support.
 
Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Eamonn Butler, said:
 
“The Treasury hates Tax Freedom Day because they don't want us to know how much tax we really pay. They conceal the tax burden with stealth taxes that we don't even realise we're paying.

“But it’s shocking that the government takes over two-fifths of the country's earnings – and then borrows more. We work longer for the government than mediaeval serfs had to work for their Lords!

“It is absurd that people on the minimum wage are liable for National Insurance Contributions, which raise their cost to employers and make it harder to move from benefits into work. The poor are also worst hit by regressive taxes like excise duties on what they buy."
 
Tax Freedom Day is designed to reveal to the public how much they really pay out in taxes, which Britain’s lengthy tax code can often obscure. ASI calculations include direct taxes like income tax and national insurance, as well as indirect taxes like VAT and corporation tax.
 
John Redwood, Conservative MP for Wokingham, added:

“I think it is wrong that people have to work for the government until 3 June and for their families and themselves for only a little over half the year. I want us to leave the EU so we have more of our own money to spend. The UK deserves a tax cut and leaving is the way to get it.” 

-ENDS-
 
Notes to editors:
 
For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.
 
The ASI calculates Tax Freedom Day by measuring local taxes, direct and indirect national taxes, and national insurance contributions as a proportion of the UK’s net national income (42.27% per cent in 2016), mapping that proportion onto the days of the year.
 
Tax Freedom Day figures are not available up-to-date for calendar years so they are proxied from government and OBR forecasts and financial year numbers. They are then revised when exact numbers become available.
 
Click here for more information on previous Tax Freedom Days.
 
The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.
 
 

ASI comments on how free tuition can actually hurt the poorest in Sunday Mail and The Herald

Sam Dumitriu, Head of Projects at the Adam Smith Institute, made the following comments in light of new research revealing that Scots from disadvantaged areas are four times less likely to go to university than those from wealthy backgrounds. Sam said:

“Today's findings show that high tuition fees don't deter poorer students from going to University. In fact, free tuition hurts the poorest students as it implies a strict cap on student places. The current tuition fee system in England and Wales is much fairer, as those who benefit the most from university also contribute the most to its costs.
 
“In line with the proposals in the Governments HE White Paper, universities should be incentivised to improve teaching standards and employment outcomes by allowing them to raise tuition fees above the 9K cap. Students will also benefit from increased competition, so the Government should give degree awarding powers to challenger institutions such as major employers.”

His comments were featured in the Sunday Mail and The Herald.

Latest ASI paper on extreme porn laws lands coverage across national and LGBT media

The ASI's new report 'Nothing to Hide: The case against the ban on extreme pornography' has received widespread coverage across the national and LGBT media.

City AM reported:

A think tank has called for the government to scrap its "ineffective" and "absurd" extreme pornography laws in a report released today.
The new study from the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) claims the laws can be used to incriminate thousands of innocent people, particularly gay men, and are a "blunt tool" for enforcing presumed moral values that are at odds with the "real sexual desires and practices" of Britons. 

Metro reported:

Gay people are being unfairly targeted by ‘absurd’ laws on extreme porn, according to a major new report. A number of sex acts are banned from porn under the new law, including fisting, face-sitting, ‘consensual non-consent’ and many aspects of BDSM. According to the Adam Smith Institute, this has led to minority sexual communities being unfairly prosecuted under the law.

The i reported:

Gay people and other sexual minorities are being unjustly prosecuted for possession of  images showing sex acts between consenting adults under a law banning extreme pornography, according to a prominent think-tank.
The Adam Smith Institute is calling for the legislation, first introduced seven years ago and updated last year to ban images depicting violent or non-consensual sex, to be repealed or redrafted to prevent it being applied to acts that can be carried out safely by consenting adults.

The Sun reported:

Authors at the Adam Smith Institute analysed data from the British Sexual Fantasy Research Project, a survey of 19,000 Brits, to reach some eyebrow-raising findings.

The paper has also garnered interest from the LGBT media being covered across The Gay UK, Gay Times, Gay Star News, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. Th Gay UK reported:

A new report reveals that thousands of innocent porn consumers and in particular gay men could find themselves facing jail time because of the UK’s laws surrounding porn consumption.
The Adam Smith Institute who released the report are calling on David Cameron to abandon the “absurd” pornographic laws. The report argues that there is no concrete evidence that pornography increases cases of sexual violence, and that the laws – designed to convict paedophiles and necrophiliacs – are so broad that they threaten the private sexual matters of over half of Britain.

Press Release: Political Porns: Brits Face Jail Under Draconian Porn Laws

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

Nanny State could get you arrested for private bedroom antics reveals new report

•           A third of adults in the UK fantasise about domination and submission
•           Extreme porn laws blunt tool for enforcing presumed moral values
•           Risk criminalising over half the population rather than catching paedophiles
•           Pornography could actually reduce sexual violence
 
Today, the Adam Smith Institute releases a report urging the government to scrap ineffective extreme pornography laws. The report argues that there is no concrete evidence that pornography increases cases of sexual violence, and that the laws - designed to convict paedophiles and necrophiliacs - are so broad as to threaten the private sexual matters of over half of Britain. 
 
The whole area of obscenity law needs to be redrafted argues the report, starting with the extreme pornography law. The current legislation is so sweeping as to allow those who receive unsolicited images on Whatsapp groups to be charged with possession of extreme pornographic images, with one attempted prosecution for bestiality in Wales involving a video of a badly photo shopped tiger superimposed over a man's body, delivering the line “That’s grrrreat!” to the camera.
 
A survey* of 19,000 adults in the UK found that 86% of men and 56% of women admitted to having viewed pornography, with a third of adults fantasising about playing a dominant or aggressive role during sex, and a third fantasising about being submissive. Six per cent of UK adults, or approximately 2.9 million men and women, admitted to privately having violent sexual fantasies of some kind, meaning that hundreds of thousands of normal people who pose no specific risk of committing sexual offences could be targeted as criminals under the extreme porn law.
 
The paper goes on to argue that the current law could be used as a ‘blackmailer’s charter’ in the same way as homosexuality was before it was legalised in 1967. Completely consensual acts between sexual minorities are being blamed for all manner of social ills, and the individuals themselves are being punished for wider harms for which they are not plausibly responsible.
 
The threat that this law poses to the sanctity of free speech and the privacy of our personal lives is twofold. As well as potentially being used to test the water for more radical censorship in the pipeline, the unspecific nature of this legislation means that it can be used to discredit individuals who are in dispute with a public authority. 
 
Numerous studies have also found that as pornography becomes more widely available, cheaper, or more tailored to individual desire, sexual violence falls. Crackdowns on representations lead to more demand for the real thing.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute said:

“Most people don’t want the government in their bedrooms, but that’s what extreme porn laws do. This report highlights just how bad these laws really are – they turn millions of law-abiding adults into potential criminals simply for enjoying consensual spanking or dressing up in the bedroom. The evidence is very clear that pornography does not drive violence, and indeed it may reduce it. These are badly drafted laws that should never have made it to the statute books, and this report confirms the urgent need for the government to scrap them.”

Nick Cowen, author of the paper said:

“The extreme porn ban criminalises depictions of sex acts even if they are safely performed by consenting adults. We have seen the law used, in particular, to target and expose gay men. Each such case represents a personal tragedy and a disgraceful use of our criminal justice system's scarce resources. The costs of the law are disproportionate to any public benefit, and as implemented cannot plausibly protect women’s interests for which the ban was supposedly introduced.”
 

-ENDS-


Notes to editors:                                                        
*Data taken from the British Sexual Fantasy Research Project 2007
 
For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.
 
To report ‘Nothing to Hide: The case against the ban on extreme pornography’ can be accessed here


The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Further work by Nick Cowen: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajps.12238/full

Sam Bowman takes on Ken Loach's latest film in The Daily Telegraph

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, argues that Ken Loach has picked the wrong villain in his latest film I, Daniel Blake. The story of people being mistreated by faceless bureaucrats in an unfeeling, capitalistic state is full of despair, but to blame modern capitalism would be wrong Sam argues:

Think about the hassle that the supposed pleasure of going on holiday once involved. Today, travel agents exist to offer cheap package holidays they’ve bought in bulk. Just 20 years ago, they existed because the airline and hotel industries were so bureaucratic that no ordinary person could deal with them directly. Nowadays the really crushing part of travelling is replacing a lost passport or applying for a visa – the two last big holdouts of government “service”.  
In these as in so many other consumer areas, bureaucrats have been scrubbed from our daily lives. Trade and competition – the sort of competition that involves seducing customers from rivals by offering something better – have driven a phenomenal betterment in the lives of everyone, including the protagonists of Ken Loach’s dramas. Both government and business can be bureaucratic, but only businesses have an incentive to improve.

Read the full article here

Will driverless cars be the end of public transport? You bet, says Tim Worstall in City AM

Tim Worstall, senior fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, has argued that driverless cars will hail the end of public transport in this morning's City AM. 

Whether it’s Uber that perfects the autonomous vehicle is yet to be revealed: but they will be perfected and they will destroy the entire public transport system. Given the sheer number of people that a commuter train system can move, that section of the system will last longer than others. But urban and rural bus systems (where any of the latter still exist) will simply be wiped out.
As the current incarnation of Uber shows, we just love point-to-point on demand transport if it’s cheap enough. Kill off the cost of the driver with an AI and autonomous vehicles will be price comparable with the bus. It’s a complete no brainer: public transport systems will be eviscerated by the driverless car.

Read the article in full here

Roland Smith explains how Brexit would effect Expats in The Daily Telegraph

Roland Smith, Adam Smith Institute Fellow and author of "The Liberal Case for Leave", made the case for the EEA options in The Daily Telegraph this week. Explaining how Brexit would effect the Expat community, Roland said:

Against a backdrop of gyrating markets and with very constrained timescales, the Government would conclude the most optimal way of de-risking Brexit would be to take up a European Economic Area position, which would mean re-joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Indeed, this may be the only basis upon which the EU will deal.
Such a deal would signal an end to scare stories of being cut off from the Single Market, and alleviate worries around Irish borders, Scottish independence, involvement in Science and Education programmes and notably, the concerns of British Expats and their rights.
Expats might therefore want to look at the campaign anew and imagine whether Britain really should stay on the conveyor belt to a politically integrated “country called Europe”, or should step off and have a market-based deal instead.

Read the article in full here

Sam Bowman defends Beyoncé in the International Business Times

Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Bowman, has defended Beyoncé Knowles in his latest article for the IBTimes. Reacting to calls to boycott the Ivy Park range, Sam argues:

The best we can do is not to take these jobs away but to expand the options available to poor developing world workers. Guest worker programmes could be introduced and expanded to allow more of the global poor to come and work in Britain, which would increase their incomes by between ten and twenty times.
There is much more we can and should do, but boycotting goods made in sweatshops won't help. Buying the clothes they make boosts their incomes and gives them better jobs than they can hope for otherwise. In the battle between the do-gooders and Beyoncé, it is Ms Knowles who is truly on the side of the world's poor.

Read the article in full here

Eamonn Butler warns that protectionism ain’t dead yet in City AM

Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, argued that we haven't seen the back of protectionism yet, in a debate with Linda Yueh for City AM. Butler asserted: 

We’ve seen it aplenty from populist presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. And – if she manages to escape indictment – Hillary Clinton will become President only by appeasing Sanders and all those Democrats who previously voted for Nader, Perot and Buchanan. That’s not good, particularly since the US is a massive trading nation.
Meanwhile, EU protectionism may sink the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), signalling the high-water mark of global free trade. Many will excuse the US’s tariff on Chinese steel as an “emergency measure” for “special circumstances”. Such claims are always the thin end of the wedge for bad but enduring policy. But it’s not just about tariff numbers. A bigger concern is non-tariff barriers, where protectionism abounds. Need one say more than “a single market in services”?

Read the full article here

 

Ben Southwood quoted in the Guardian over e-cig restrictions

Head of Research at the ASI, Ben Southwood, was quoted in the Guardian regarding the new EU restrictions on e-cigarettes. Ben said:

Public health authorities should not lose sight of their real goal – or what should be their real goal – reducing harm to citizens while still allowing them freedom to make personal decisions, including those which involve trade-offs between health and pleasure.
The recent crackdown on e-cigs is not only a restriction on consumer and individual freedom, but will condemn thousands – who might have switched from smoking to vaping – to an early death.

Read the article in full here