What will be the effect of raising tax allowances – the threshold at which people start paying income tax? The Coalition government in the UK has a policy of raising the threshold to £10,000 by 2015/16. As a step on this road, the present plan is to raise the threshold from £7475 in 2011/12 to £8105 in 2012/13. The Liberal Democrats, however, are urging the Chancellor to raise allowances more quickly.
The government maintains that raising the personal allowance is progressive – that it will give relatively more help to the poor. New research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, however, casts doubt on this claim. The IFS demonstrates that the benefits will be unevenly distributed, with the greatest benefits going to middle-income families where more than one person works but where no-one earns the higher tax rate. The poorest people – those earning below the threshold – will gain nothing at all.
Read the following articles and the IFS report and establish just who would benefit by a rise in the tax threshold and whether or not the move could be described at ‘progressive’.
Tax move ‘benefits better-off’ Independent, Joe Churcher (9/3/12)
Raising tax threshold would benefit rich more than poor, says IFS MyFinances.co.uk (11/3/12)
Rise in income tax threshold would help the rich Financial Times, Vanessa Houlder (9/3/12)
Budget 2012: raising the personal tax allowance threshold isn’t fair Guardian blog, Heather Stewart (9/3/12)
A £10,000 personal allowance: who would benefit, and would it boost the economy? IFS, James Browne (March 2012)
- Define the term ‘progressive tax’.
- For what reasons might raising the personal tax allowance (a) be progressive; (b) not be progressive?
- How does eliminating child benefit for any families where either parent earns the higher tax rate affect the progressiveness of raising income tax thresholds?
- What additional measures could be taken to ensure that raising tax thresholds was progressive across the whole income range and for all households?