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How your tax is spent

Feb 29, 2012, 06:30 AM
Authors : Mike
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Post date : Feb 29, 2012, 06:30 AM

I spent an interesting lunchtime at a roundtable run by non-party think-tank Reform last week, looking at Ben Gummer MP’s proposals for personal tax statements.

His idea is that every taxpayer should be sent an annual statement of the tax they have paid and are likely to pay in the following year, plus a breakdown of where it will be spent.

The discussion started with agreement from most around the table that this was a good idea, but realism eventually set in as those who understood the tax system explained that HMRC simply do not know how much tax people have paid if they are not in self-assessment.

And then everyone around the table started calculating the cost: £6 million for the mailing alone.

We at Taxation have not been very complimentary about Mr Gummer's proposal from the start, because we are cynical about the likelihood of people ever reading anything sent to them by HMRC.

However, not wanting to be too negative, we have come up with an alternative that has cost far less than £6 million.

In fact it has cost nothing at all, apart from a bit of research (and a couple of breakages as we threw things when Excel was being recalcitrant).

My brothers and sisters in tax, I give you the How your Tax is Spent Calculator!

Taxpayers can fill in either their monthly or annual income tax and NI payments, and get an instant, detailed, breakdown that shows how much was spent on government services.

Not only that, but users can get some idea of what the expenditure bought: how much of an old age pension it paid for, the amount of the UK’s debt on which they paid interest, or even (for uninformative headings like ‘other’) how many boxes of paperclips were bought.

Feel free to download the spreadsheet (you'll need an up-to-date version of Excel) and put it on your own website, and to send it to clients or contacts. The only thing you're not allowed to do is alter it in any way, and that includes removing the Taxation branding.

(For those who know about these things, the calculator is licensed, as it says on the sheet, under a Creative Commons attribution-no derivatives (CC BY-ND) licence.)


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