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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
What is 'Tax freedom day'?
Time to stop paying tax
Time to stop paying tax
Tax Freedom Day is the day on which the average UK taxpayer can expect to stop working for the government and instead begin earning money for him or herself.

Each year the Adam Smith Institute calculates which day it will fall on.

For example, tax freedom day in 2002 fell on 5 June, which means that for an average British taxpayer all the money earned in the first 157 days went to the government in taxes and other deductions.

In 2003 tax freedom day fell on 2 June. It has, however, been even later than this in the past.

In the early 1980s the Conservative government imposed a number of stiff tax rises to pay for restructuring the British economy, and this meant that tax freedom day came as late as 15 June in 1982.

American experience

In the US the tax burden on the average citizen is generally lower than it is in the UK.

In 2001 US tax freedom day came on 3 May, though the picture varies across the country because the tax burden is different from state to state.

Economists in the US say that the trend towards later and later tax freedom days is likely to continue because of increases in taxation at federal level.

Under Tony Blair's Labour government, the tax burden on average taxpayers has gone up.

According to independent economic analysis, much of this increase in taxation originates in Gordon Brown's first budget, unveiled shortly after the election of 1997.

In 1997, tax freedom day fell on 27 May. A year later it was 1 June; In 1999 it was 4 June and in 2000 it fell on 9 June.

Labour tax rises

The tax increases announced at the time included a windfall tax on the recently privatised utility companies, abolition of mortgage interest relief (MIRAS) and a rise in fuel duties.

Before increases in National Insurance Contributions, announced in the 2002 Budget, Mr Brown avoided overt increases in personal taxation.

Instead, there has been frequent comment about so-called "stealth" taxes, or tax rises which have been brought in through the backdoor.

A report in 2000 by the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, based on Treasury information, found that taxes rose by more than 10bn a year in Labour's first three Budgets.

It also said there had been 150 different tax changes from 1997-2000, which had cost the average adult in the UK an extra 250 a year.


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