September 18th, 2012

How Many Working Age British Voters Don’t Pay Income Tax?

Mitt Romney’s highlighting of the 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal income tax has got Guido thinking this morning. Having crunched the numbers it seems that a far greater number of Britons chip in to the Treasury than our stateside counterparts. Of the 34.1 million people of working age in the UK some 30.1 million pay income tax, leaving just 12% not contributing. Using Romney’s less reasonable registered voter method – including other groups such as the elderly – that figure rises to 35%.

Over at the Speccie Fraser Nelson has some interesting research of his own, noting the large number of public sector “dependents” who vote Tory. Fraser goes on: “If you add Brits who derive most of their income from government jobs or welfare, you’d get to about half of registered voters”.

46.1 million registered voters, a public sector workforce of 5.9 million5.8 million on working age benefits and 9.5 million recipients of old-age pensions – that’s approximately 46% of voters who could be described as dependent on the government. They might not all vote Labour but that’s still quite a figure…


126 Comments

  1. 1
    Nigel Farage says:

    Vote UKIP!

    Like

  2. 2
    Chukwit says:

    You can rely on the Unions to fund the country

    Like

  3. 3
    nellnewman says:

    Well assumptions that all of two of those groups are likely to vote labour would be wrong.

    Public sector workers are not all left wing and labour voting. And most pensioners tend to be much more middle of the road and right wing.

    Like

    • 19
      The General Public says:

      Quite so. It appears now to have become received wisdom that everyone who works in the public sector votes Labour, a premise, which I know from my own family and friends, to be emphatically not true.

      Like

      • 31
        Really? says:

        Having worked in the public sector I agree not all are rabid lefties. In my experience the left-right split was around 90% leftist to 10% rightist. Of course that was some years ago now ( the 1990’s ) so it may have changed.

        Like

        • 41
          The General Public says:

          Interesting, though back in the 90s a lot of floating voters (myself included)voted Labour. 15-20 years later, having lived through Blair/Brown and looking at Miliband/Balls would they do so again? I certainly wouldn’t.

          Like

          • jgm2 says:

            It just needs the unions to chivvy a few more people along with mass strikes and remind them of why Labour spent 18 years contemplating their navels in opposition.

            Like

          • Britain the ruined Country says:

            What the bbc election campaigners for Obama should be saying but aren’t:-

            “Romney breaks new ground for a politician by speaking the truth”

            Look out of windows to see porcine flying objects.

            Like

          • Mrs Havisham says:

            Who will you vote for then? I also voted Labour but I don’t find the present shower an improvement. I think the whole Lib/Lab/Con set up should be consigned to the scrapyard.

            Like

  4. 4
    Anti Fabian says:

    Just how Gordon planned it.

    Like

    • 94
      UKIP.i.am.awake says:

      That’s right. It is certainly true that there are a lot of people who receive state benefits who are right wing and vote Tory. There are also many working in the public sector who are also right wing. But logic dictates that the more dependent a nation is on the state the more likely the people of that nation are to be left wing. So Brown played a blinder by getting people addicted to state benefits. Of course it also made sure the country was well and truly fucked but Labour couldn’t give a toss about that.

      Like

      • 105
        Jim says:

        Yes there is no doubt this was Brown’s thinking. Money talks and brings in the Votes. However behind this are problems. Pensioners have paid their contributions and these should have been invested not spent. Unemployed people have, until education collapsed, paid taxes and will again if supported and retrained for new industries or we need to rebuild their basic education. But how do you explain one in eight people employed being paid from taxation to run our affairs? It is not that we are actually building anything these days, but rather just trying to stay alive and catch up with successful Nations.

        Like

  5. 5
    UlyssesReturns says:

    How opportune. I copy here my post to Fraser puff piece on Coffee House.

    Fraser, Fraser Fraser, you say “If you add Brits who derive most of their income from government jobs or welfare, you’d get to about half of registered voters. But it’s patronising and wrong to assume that these people will always vote for high-spending governments.” Err, the latest poll puts high-spending labour on 45%, or about half of the voters. Given that the labour lead is made up mostly of defecting libtards (I don’t see much to differentiate between labour and the libdems anyway) this 45% would be the: non-taxpayers, teachers, BBC employees, welfare and government jobs dependant client state that Blair and Brown/Balls so asiduously courted and subsidised. As the libdems are certain to sabotage the boundary changes and will almost certainly split and the more left-wing part will merge with labour in 2015, we are condemned to a left-wing future. I see by your stance and the general movement to the left of The Speccie and The Daily Telegraph, preparations are already underway to ditch the Tories (and who could blame you – pathetic leadership and supine bunch of retard MPs). Two-and-a-half more years of the coalition and another 2 or 3 terms of labour and it will be game over.

    Like

    • 30
      Outside the bubble says:

      The LibDems, whether they split or not in Westminster or not have already pretty much ceased to exist in most parts of the country: they have no activists left on the ground.

      Like

    • 40
      jgm2 says:

      another 2 or 3 terms of labour and it will be game over.

      It is already ‘game over’. Cameron has had two years and has not addressed the public sector overmanning/over-paying problem beyond allowing for natural wastage.

      The writing is on the wall. Gold is still cheap.

      Like

  6. 6
    Chukwit Fuckwit says:

    The Unions are the wealth creators

    Like

  7. 7
    tottenham chutzpah says:

    start with the biggest bunch of welfare scroungers – the phoney farmers, and the other parasites that live alongside them and are paid by the PBT – tax-farmers & very civil self-servants

    is that a quick quarter million off the list of tax-payers

    Like

  8. 8
    David Cameron (Leader of the Nasty Party) says:

    I benefited from the reduction in the higher rate of tax.

    For security reasons I am unable to repeat this in The House Of Commons.

    Thank you and good afternoon.

    Like

  9. 9
    Dave says:

    And being as a considerable proportion of the private sector in this country only exists to run generous government contracts then nearly all of us are dependent on the state. What a bunch of scroungers!

    Like

    • 12
      Widescreen2010 says:

      I wouldn’t say ‘nearly all’ but as a net tax contributor I am starting to feel a bit of a mug.

      Like

  10. 9
    Widescreen2010 says:

    Don’t forget that a large section of the ‘private sector’ really depends on govt handouts: much of the construction, IT, and pharmaceutical industries for a start.
    Add that in and you start to see just how few genuine contributing taxpayers there are.

    Like

  11. 11
    Nitpicker says:

    Perhaps it is ever so slightly protesting too much to describe the 9.5m recipients of old age benefits as “dependent on the Government”?

    Like

    • 18
      Simon B says:

      They should have funded their own pensions instead of taking from my pockets to spend their days not working.

      Like

      • 28
        Anonymous says:

        Excuse me, Simon B old boy, I am in receipt of a pension and I pay tax on it. What about the dole scroungers? Do they pay tax on their benefits?

        Like

        • 67
          Simon B says:

          I see no difference between dole scroungers and pension scroungers. Both failed to take personal responsibility for themselves. It’s not my job to fund your retirement or someone who doesn’t work hard enough to keep their jobs. Taxes should fund the military and justice and little else.

          Like

        • 74

          And PAID the tax on our earnings to qualify for the pension..

          Just because LieBore stole billions from private pensions every year they were in power doesn’t make pensioners a government liability – they were the assets that put the money there in the first place!

          When LieBore came in in 1997 there was a pensions SURPLUS…..
          I wonder if it’s still there at the back of James Gordmong Brown’s old desk, with all the fluff, broken Nokias and OUR FUC.KING GOLD!!!!!?

          Like

  12. 13
  13. 14
    ..Silicon Implant!! says:

    Firstly, with VAT at 20%, everybody with a pulse, more or less, contributes, even if they are a net claimer on the state. Secondly, you arguably have to distinguish between those who derive most of their income from the state because they do work that needs to be done to grease the wheels of society and commerce but that which either private industry will not do, or private industry does do but will not pay people enough that they can house, clothe and feed themselves adequately.

    Like

  14. 16
    Tax is theft says:

    We could help this by privatising the BBC and the NHS… hh and we’d get a better service too.

    Like

  15. 17
    It's people like this lazy scum who are what's wrong with the country says:

    Like

  16. 20
    Your Friendly Neighbourhood Tax System Explication Service says:

    Just so the conversation stays on track– not all those who “pay no income tax” in the United States are on benefits. The US has a refundable earned income tax credit for low earners, in an attempt to “Make work pay,” (i.e., so that it isn’t “more profitable” to be on benefits), which means that when a taxpayer files, (s)he not only gets back everything that was withheld at source (and that part can be fiddled and often is, to have nothing so taken out), plus an allowance the Federal Government gives. Many of these filers, once their personal exemptions and standard deduction are taken out have no tax liability, full stop, and those who do can have it set off to nil with child tax credit, so the earned income tax credit is all pure gravy. It somewhat muddies the waters to discuss these folks and conflate them with those who are on benefits and not required to file at all.

    Like

  17. 21
    Shane Lowe says:

    Are political commentators and bloggers not dependant on government for their jobs? Yawn, right wing bores

    Like

    • 34
      annette curton says:

      No, stretches.

      Like

      • 49
        Shane Lowe says:

        This is yet another attempt to vilify the unemployed. If we want to see the real villains of the piece we need to look upwards, not downwards. The profit hoarding multi-millionaires (who are just as dependant on government in the sense that weak tax avoidance laws help fund their lavish lifestyles) have much more to answer for.

        Like

        • 55
          jgm2 says:

          The profit hoarding multi-millionaires

          ‘Profit-hoarding’? You’d be pissing and moaning too if they were spending it all on extravagant yachts and Rolls Royces.

          You bedwetters need to make your mind up. Should rich people spend their money or should they save it?

          Like

          • Shane Lowe says:

            It should be taxed, heavily. I’m not in favour of destroying wealth but it should be distributed more evenly. It is no use pointing the finger of blame at unemployed people living off the state when those most privelaged in society do not pay a fair share. There are a select group of people in this country who are trying to line their own pockets whilst the rest of the country crumbles around them, the fool Osborne is letting them.

            Like

          • headmistress says:

            It would appear the Shane was ejerkatid at the same bog standard comprehensive as Yvonne from the pub.

            Like

          • … says the person who hasn’t made a million himself.
            They should pay a fair tax – 45% + national insurance @ 12%, plus 20% V.A.T. on all of the stuff they buy – and they buy more than most of us!

            That equates to some 70-75% of their earnings going directly to the government, and you don’t think that is enough?

            Like almost all right on socialist intellectuals, you think that if wealth were evenly distributed we’d all be better off as a society, and it’s not true.

            By the way, in 2008 the FT wrote:

            “The very rich have grown richer at double the pace of most Britons under Labour and their incomes may have accelerated further in recent years on the back of a rising stock market, research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows.”

            Well, well, well.

            But hey, don’t let truth get in the way of a bit of financial envy.

            Like

    • 76
      Shane Lowe says:

      Had a nightmare with the spelling there, apologies. Content was bang on however

      Like

      • 96
        UKIP.i.am.awake says:

        No need to apologise. You cant help being an ignorant plonker. If the rich pay far more taxes then why are they going to bother risking their money and working at all? Your policy of taxing the rich til they drop would result in mass unemployment. Who else are going to create those jobs? You don’t need much intelligence to work out that discouraging business causes recession and unemployment. The raising of the high tax rate to 50% has contributed to the the current recession, not quite as much as the Eurozone shambles but it’s up there.

        Like

    • 120
      Anonymous says:

      Leftie scum.

      Like

  18. 22
    Barracks Pyjama laughing all the way to the shite house says:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/

    Alberto Nardelli ‏@AlbertoNardelli
    On the 47%: those (61%) who pay only payroll taxes, paid more tax as % of their income than Romney paid

    Like

  19. 25
    tube_thumper says:

    add to those statisitics the illegal immigrants. The legal but scrounging ones and Members fo Parliament and it probably adds up to over 50%

    Like

  20. 29
    Anonymous says:

    Give the people more jobs & the people will start paying taxes.Its not rocket science Mr Osbourne http://uploadsociety.com/user/Solartrancer

    Like

    • 36
      jgm2 says:

      ‘Give the people more jobs’.

      Aye. Because the government is just keeping all the ‘jobs’ back. Saving the ‘jobs’ for a rainy day.

      These ‘jobs’. What ‘jobs’ would they be and how do you propose to pay these people for doing the ‘jobs’ that we didn’t realise needed doing until you came along with your helpful economic solution?

      Like

      • 68
        Left wing socialist waynetta says:

        probably some road sweeping jobs for that AnonyFuckwit if he wanted one. Probably bugger that up as well

        Like

        • 81

          I’ll have you know Nonny Mouseman has done a seven year apprenticeship, equal to a university degree, in banana peeling AND he has his own tyre swinging from the ceiling at Milwank Tower crèche.

          (He still throws his shit at the visitors though – he’s been promised a “pilgrimage” for that)

          Like

  21. 32
    jgm2 says:

    This is why we must be careful about setting a tax-free income level that is too high.

    In principle the higher the better but in practise if (say) you were to set the tax-free level at 25K (the average wage) and then levy income tax at a fixed rate above that then a huge percentage of the population wouldn’t give a fuck how high income tax was. Just as 95% don’t give a hoot if the higher rate goes from 40% to 50%. Cos they’re ‘rich’. They can afford it.

    It would be the same problem if the tax free limit were set at 25K. Well over half the population wouldn’t give a fuck if income tax above that were set at 90%. And so they’d vote for that.

    And there’s a political party at large that would be more than happy to stick it to those ‘rich’ people earning over 25K. Although, more realistically they’d probably set the punitive taxes on those earning more than a school teacher or whatever the higher end for most public servants is. Around 45K I would guess.

    Like

    • 99
      Philip Green says:

      You must have missed all the bitching, moaning and tax evasion we did that Cameron and Osborn used to justify the tax cut to 45p

      Like

  22. 35
    PRUTE says:

    The Big accountancy companies are directly reliant on the state, either as clients or receiving fees in relation to legislation related tax and business planning

    Like

  23. 37
    POO says:

    I have had a company car for the last 25years

    No more because of tax

    Me £6000+
    State -£6000

    Like

  24. 38
    Ancient Brit says:

    Many OAPs pay tax.Have you allowed for this in your calculation.

    Like

  25. 39
    POO says:

    including fuel on an X5 3.0d M SPORT = £9096

    stroooth more than I thought

    Like

    • 47
      jgm2 says:

      Yep. Used to be you were taxed at 1/3 (I think) of the list price of the car as a benefit in kind. So… if (say) the car was worth 30K you’d be taxed as if you’d received 10K so (at 40% tax) that would be 6K you’d have to find. Plus of course most companies, if you don’t take the car will actually give you a cash alternative – perhaps another 5K (although you’d only see 60% of that – so 3K). As you say. 9K a year worse off. And you don’t even own the car at the end of it.

      I figured out that my wife could actually afford to buy the fucking car over the course of four years rather than paying the equivalent of 9K a year to rent the fucking thing from the tax-man.

      Like

  26. 46
    Gordon Brown says:

    Of course this chart is nonsense. The fact someone is an OAP doesn’t mean in anyway they are mostly dependent on the state, many are certainly not. And a couple where one partner is claiming benefit isn’t “dependent” on the state either as in many cases the benefits are far outweighed by the other partners income. As for “public sector workforce” they aren’t “dependent” on the state either – if the state stopped providing the services nurses and doctors would work privately.

    You need to do much better than this Guido.

    Like

  27. 53
    Mitt Romney says:

    Bain Capital has done nothing wrong and I strenously deny all the allegations made against my company.

    Like

  28. 54
    the savant says:

    Serious Comment.

    may i make one point about the GOP presidential candidate :

    while he may be excellent at making fortunes and business generally he is undoubtedly a worse gop candidate tha mccain and palin combined .

    he has thus far conducted a campaign which shows he is no poltician let alone one suited to secure office at this high level e g calling a news conference at 10 pm to mitigate the leaked 47 percent story .

    Obama will unfortunately whup his ass in november even on the last four years abysmal showing and the gop will continue to be riven internally until the time of the next election when it is to be hoped a vaguely humanoid candidate will present him/her self. Thank you .

    Like

  29. 62
    Paddy says:

    For years, the debate in the UK has been about getting as many people as possible out of paying income tax.

    Why is someone doing normal hours in the UK on our minimum wage taxed at all? That’s what the coalition is trying to do: raise the threshold and liberate millions. It is one of their more notable achievements.

    One of the biggest drains on people earning around that level is taxation, especially given the simple pleasures of life, such as a pint and a ciggy, have enormous marginal taxes applied to them.

    “Dependent on the government” doesn’t quite ring true. This may apply to public libraries and certain parts of the NHS, but a fair proportion of the “public” sector are doing something productive and have strong personal incentives to push themselves. (Consider a University Professor: if he works hard and invents something new, he can have all the benefits of a university life and a spin-out company.) The fact that their own efforts are paid for by the BritGov does not necessarily distort their own world view so badly that they can be bought.

    Like

    • 89
      Seasick Steve says:

      I’ve another idea, instead of taxing people, then making people fill out stupid forms and then giving them back some of the money, why not just not tax ‘em in the first place?

      Like

  30. 64
    Perry says:

    Because of the system in the past that paying into a company pension was often mandatory, many older people pay income tax.

    Like

  31. 73
    robbie says:

    What utter crap Guido. A whole raft of UK private business is dependent on jobs and income from the public sector. Its an interdependent economy we live in. Suck it up and deal with it.

    Like

    • 77
      JH says:

      I think you’ll find the public sector needs the private sector’s money one fuck of a lot more than the other way around.

      Which sector do you think would still be standing after a year without your so called ‘interdependency’?

      From your tone I have no doubt that your involvement in this ‘interdependency’ takes the form of a nice chunk of someone else’s money magically appearing in your bank account at the end of the month, with a pension to boot. Irrespective of the measurable benefit of your actions.

      Arguments like this from the recipients of taxes disgust me; it’s like your girlfriend demanding you pay her vast credit card bills because she ran them up ‘looking nice’ for you. A private sector company that is dependent on taxpayers money being pissed around is de facto public sector!

      It never seems to occur to bedwetters that the private sector would have vastly more capacity for jobs if it wasn’t so comprehensively plundered in the first place.

      As usual, those who propose shard sacrifices only turn up for the sharing bit.

      Like

      • 79
        Perry says:

        Such a pity you waste some good arguments and points with your need to use the language which you think makes you ‘smart’

        Like

        • 80
          JH says:

          Have I got a detention?

          Like

          • The only exception I can find with your argument, which I broadly agree with JH, is that NOT paying your girlfriends huge credit card bills for looking nice for you is not really like stopping paying for the private sector – I wouldn’t care if the private sector went and fuc.ked my best friend out of spite.

            Do I get a detention as well?

            Like

          • Perry says:

            YUP

            Like

          • JH says:

            My point is, some people try to defend public sector largesse because some of the money pissed about splashes back into the ‘private’ sector, ie people like G4S. As if they are doing the private sector a favour by plundering money from people who actually produce wealth.

            It boils my piss. They just won’t understand that if the money was not plundered in the first place, it could be invested in actual productive enterprise, and would be far less vulnerable to cronyism and fraud.

            But the ikkle leftie flowers won’t have that, because it raises the possibility that they may have to take on a proper job and get a shocking reminder of the actual value of their ‘labour’.

            Like

      • 90
        Den Kodd says:

        If he works in the public sector I doubt he’ll have a girlfriend

        Like

        • 95
          Loopy Lou says:

          BAE a supposed top line FSTSE Company thinks about a merger and already the politicians are sticking their oars in .

          Two Banks only continue thanks to the taxpayer . Santander have had some Governmental sweeteners .

          Capita Glaxo and Astra Zeneca would look pretty weak without taxpayer cheques.

          Look at the number of privatised utilities in the Ftse 100 .

          Like

    • 108
      Gos uckalemon says:

      And where does the public sector get the money to pay from? Oh yes, from taxes on people, paid with money by private firms.

      Like

  32. 87
    Anonymous says:

    “They might not all vote Labour but that’s still quite a figure…”

    Yes, Greedo, it is.

    If only we still had all those jobs that the evil bitch Thatcher destroyed things could be so different.

    As they will be again after regime change and all your liblabcon types are dealt with.

    Like

    • 109
      welloilbeefhooked says:

      margaret has done no damage to this country in the iast two and a half years but her god children are carrying on the good work.

      Like

  33. 91
    Mike Barnes says:

    I really fail to see your point.

    Pensioners are just getting back what they paid in, students and the young will pay taxes in future, the unemployed would be in work paying tax right now if the banks hadn’t fucked up the world economy.

    Like

  34. 93
    Rolo Tamasi says:

    You might find @fcablog’s analysis last year interesting.

    http://www.fcablog.org.uk/2011/09/the-tax-paid-by-billionaires-and-secretaries-the-view-from-the-uk/

    It analyses income tax by household and includes welfare payment as a negative tax.

    Up to the 5th Decile is negative.

    Like

  35. 103
    Bobble says:

    This one bloody doesn’t.

    Like

  36. 113
    Dennis C says:

    According to the US 2008 National Presidential Exit Poll , 52% of Americans with incomes of $200,000 or greater voted for Barack Obama. Smart American have been leaving the party of dumb in great numbers. 58% of Voters with graduate degrees in 2008 went for Obama, 40% went for John McCain. John Kerry carried this group too in 2004. I see Mitt Romney as George Bush without a sense of humor, and with the criminal tendencies of Richard M. Nixon. Why should you Brits care ? Because if this fool is elected, he could start WW III.

    Like

  37. 115
    Spieg Bile says:

    I’ve worked in the public sector all my life and have never dreamed of voting for Labour. Must we all be tarred with your “public sector = Labour voters” brush?

    Like


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cynic says:

Can anyone help me? I went on holiday a week ago and returned to find someone has pulled out the stake and Gordon Brown is back and acting as Prime Minister. What did I miss? Has there been a snap election?


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