'Tax the Rich', Say Tory Voters

A new report shows growing support for taxes on wealth to fund public services, including among people who voted Conservative at the last election.
Simon Childs
London, GB
September 10, 2020, 1:00pm
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A "tax the rich" banner at a protest in London. Photo: Stephen Chung / Alamy Stock Photo

Increasing numbers of Conservative Party voters are in favour of tax-hikes on the wealthy, as the coronavirus pandemic increases the public appetite for higher taxes to fund public services, a report has found.

According to the report, “Talking Tax: How to win support for taxing wealth”, from Tax Justice UK, 75 percent of people want wealth to be taxed more. This includes 64 percent of Conservative Party voters and 88 percent of Labour voters. The report draws on polling and focus groups which took place between the 2019 general election and the middle of lockdown.

Tax Justice UK Executive Director, Robert Palmer, said: “In the long run, it’s clear that Brits want fair tax rises to support better public services, tackle inequality and deal with the climate emergency. When you talk to people, there is no clamour for tax cuts. The middle of a recession is a bad time for broad brush tax rises, but higher taxes on the rich make sense and are popular.”

There is widespread support for specific wealth taxes, researchers found, and support for these is even higher among Conservative voters than it is among the general population.

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Sixty-one percent of people, including 67 percent of Tory voters, said people who earn money from investments should be taxed the same rate as those who earn money from work. Seventy-four percent of Conservative voters support an increase in corporation tax, along with 66 percent of those surveyed. Seventy-five percent of Conservatives support a mansion tax on homes that cost over £2 million, and 61 percent of Conservatives support taxes on personal wealth over £750,000, excluding their pension and main home.

The report also found that people are fed up with austerity and can see the impact that cuts have had on their local communities. Tax avoidance, meanwhile, is universally unpopular. The statement “tax avoidance by large companies is morally wrong, even if it is technically legal” was agreed to by 86 percent of respondents. “When people talk about tax, it’s hard to think of an issue that annoys Brits more than tax avoidance,” said Mr Palmer.

As Chancellor Rishi Sunak gears up to deliver his autumn budget, it has been reported that the government is planning tax rises to help with the massive cost of the coronavirus pandemic. Sunak is reportedly looking at raising corporation tax from 19 percent to 24 percent. A Tory ally told the Sunday Times, “The political reality is that the only place you can get the money is from the better-off. The polling shows this would be popular.”

Mr Palmer said: “I’d say to the Chancellor that the public will support these policies if they are introduced in the Budget. It’s a political no-brainer to end the arbitrary tax advantages of some of the richest people in society, as promised in the Conservative manifesto.”

@SimonChilds13