Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

What do the rich give back to society?

Michael Blastland
Different ways of seeing stats

As the rich are told they will pay most to repair the public finances after the recession, Michael Blastland, in his regular column, digs out a provocative fact about where the tax burden falls. But don't jump to any conclusions.

Imagine all the nation's income tax sitting in a pile in the Treasury, a great mountain of ready cash (£147,856,000,000 in 2008-09, according to Revenue and Customs).

What share of that pile was paid by those taxpayers with the highest one per cent of incomes?

a. 1%

b. 5%

c. 12%

d. 19%

Everyone has an opinion about the burden of taxation, but how many know where it falls?

The answer is…

How income relates to tax paid

We cheated. The answer is none of the options above. The people with the top 1 per cent of incomes pay very nearly a quarter of all the income tax, as the chart shows. So option d - the highest available - gets points. The other options are at best half the true amount.

We can also see from the chart that people with the top 10% of incomes pay more than half the income tax. ( See link here )