TaxPersonal TaxLies, damn lies and statistics …

Lies, damn lies and statistics ...

The critical number is 155 - which is two more than the number of fishes in the Miraculous Haul in St John's Gospel, but also, by coincidence, the number of days this year we are said to work for the taxman.

The result is the questionable concept of Tax Freedom Day (said to be 2 June this year), the brainchild of the conservative-leaning Cato Institute and Tax Foundation in the USA. It’s the day when, on average, we start keeping our annual salary, assuming the past five months’ worth has been kept by the taxman. The more tax we pay, the later Tax Freedom Day comes in the year.

But we should beware of campaigning statistics with an agenda like these, because your and my ‘tax freedom day’ is probably much earlier, for example, than that of Charles Saatchi, one of the British promoters of this idea.

Everyone’s tax freedom day is different and the implication of government ‘theft’ doesn’t stand up either. Tax Freedom Day was after 2 June for every year of Mrs Thatcher’s supposedly low-tax premiership, so maybe we’re better off than we think.

  • David Boyle is an associate of the New Economics Foundation and the author of The Tyranny of Numbers (Flamingo).

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