Paul Nowak: Here’s how we can change our tax system to ensure the rich pay a fairer share

'Those earning the most in our society should be paying a fairer share.'

Paul Nowak is the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress

The Conservatives have presided over the longest pay squeeze in modern history.

This has had a devastating impact on household incomes and left many brutally exposed to the cost of living crisis.

But not everybody has suffered. While millions of families have seen their budgets decimated, the wealth of multimillionaires and billionaires has reached new highs. Just this week it was revealed that Britain’s top bosses had seen their pay soar on average by £500,000 in 2022.

And last year – as people struggled to heat their homes and put food on the table – Porsche reported record sales in Britain. Let that sink in for minute.

Things can’t carry on like this. We need an economy that rewards work – not wealth.

But under the UK’s broken tax system, many nurses and teachers pay a bigger share of their income in tax than a property speculator, or city trader who profits from stocks and shares.

That is simply not right.

If we want to rebuild our public services and provide strong foundations for investment in infrastructure and industry, then those with the broadest shoulders need to play a bigger part.

That’s why the TUC is calling for a national conversation about tax. Those earning the most in our society should be paying a fairer share.

We don’t claim to have all the answers, but there are number of options available.

Equalising capital gains tax rates with income tax rates could raise more than £10bn a year.

And a modest wealth tax on the richest 140,000 individuals – which is around 0.3% of the UK population – could deliver a £10.4bn additional boost for the public purse.

There are other things we could do too.

The loopholes that allow the super-rich to dramatically reduce tax bills must be closed and HMRC given the staff and resources it needs. It’s absurd that billionaires pay a lower tax rate on their family wealth than working families. 

And how do we ensure our high streets can compete on a level playing field with the online giants? For more than a decade the government has been tinkering with corporate tax but the likes of Amazon and Google still pay a fraction of what they should.

Multinational corporations should pay tax in line with national corporation tax rates, not the lower effective tax rates that profit shifting currently enables.

At the end of the day, this boils down to political choices. Labour have started to set out their stall – announcing plans to clamp down on non-doms and remove the VAT tax break for private schools.  But I can safely bet that the current government will continue to prioritise the needs of their party donors who benefit from Britain’s broken tax system.

That status quo is failing Britain and we know that across society many agree with us that a discussion on fair taxation urgently needs to start. Having been starved of the necessary investment for years, our public services are crumbling before our eyes. We all know someone waiting on an NHS waiting list or have heard stories about kids being taught in dilapidated classrooms.

Living standards have been in freefall for over a decade. Yet incomes for the super-rich continue to rocket. 

Enough is enough.

It’s time to build the fairer and stronger society that we urgently need. That means having a proper debate about tax.

Comments are closed.