Ahead of the budget, a new poll has revealed more Conservative voters oppose George Osborne’s plans to abolish the 50p top rate of tax than support it.
With speculation mounting over whether the chancellor will announce the abolition of the 50p top rate of tax for earnings over £150,000, a new poll reveals more Conservative voters oppose such a move than support it.
As Chart 1 shows, yesterday’s Sunday Times/YouGov poll (pdf) reveals 46 per cent of Tories polled oppose the abolition, against 45 per cent in favour. The poll also found a majority of Liberal Democrats oppose the abolition, 74%-22% – a higher proportion opposed than amongst Labour voters, who oppose the abolition of the 50p rate by 74% to 22%.
Overall (£), by a large majority, more than two-to-one, 60% of voters oppose the abolition of the 50p rate against 27% in support, with 13% undecided.
Yesterday, shadow chancellor Ed Balls accused George Osborne of being “out of touch” on the question of the 50p rate, saying he was “playing politics with the national interest”, adding of the 50p abolition idea “it’s crazy”.
“If George Osborne had the courage of his convictions, he would ask the independent Office of Budget Responsibility he set up to do that examination and he hasn’t. It’s a political report. It’s not an independent report we’re going to get on Wednesday.
“We said the top rate of tax would raise over a billion in the first year, two and a half in the second. Let’s see the numbers. But I have to say I think even if it was half what we were saying, that would compensate for the cuts in tax credits to families on £17,000, which means that they’ll be better off on benefit, losing £73 a week.
“I have to say, Andrew, for families on middle and low incomes seeing their petrol prices up, their fuel bills up, their living standards squeezed, youth unemployment rising, the idea that George Osborne is saying the number one priority is to cut taxes for families on £150,000, they can’t be serious.
“It’s totally out of touch. What planet are they on? Whose side are they on? It’s crazy.”
• It’s official: the 50p tax rate raises revenue 9 Jan 2012
And today, The Guardian reports Nick Clegg has attempted to assuage Lib Dem anger at Osborne’s proposals, claiming he and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander have negotiated a “Robin Hood” budget that will help the poor, by:
• Cracking down on millionaires who avoid stamp duty on properties worth more than £1m by “enveloping” the properties into private companies based abroad. The Treasury will ensure that any property that is lived in, either by the owner or by a tenant, is subject to stamp duty. This will raise just over £100m.
• Implementing in full a report by Graham Aaronson, the taxation barrister, which calls for new rules to target aggressive tax avoidance. This move has been led by Osborne and the treasury minister David Gauke.
However, Stephen Williams, Lib Dem co-chair of the Treasury select committee, said:
“I certainly don’t think that now would be the right time to announce the abolition of the 50p or the reduction of the 50p rate of tax. 2012 is going to be quite a difficult year for many families up and down the country.”