Voters could get a special Bank Holiday to mark the date when they stop working for the taxman, Michael Howard said in his first party political broadcast.
Tories want to mark the time we stop paying tax
A Tory government would introduce the measure to help people decide if they were getting genuine value-for-money in return for the tax they pay.
Mr Howard said he wanted to use the concept of Tax Freedom Day to cut the confusion created by stealth taxes.
The day could either be a new Bank Holiday or could replace May Day.
Mr Howard argued that the Bank Holiday move would make it easier for voters to comprehend the true size of the tax
burden, and note how it changes from year to year.
"You know our public services aren't as good as they should be," he told viewers.
"Yet, because of Labour's spin and stealth taxes, people don't realise just
how much tax they are paying."
The concept of Tax Freedom Day - calculated each year by the Adam Smith Institute think-tank - would give people a clearer idea of how much the state takes from their earnings in tax, he said.
"The principle is simple. The more tax the government takes, the later in the
year Tax Freedom Day falls. The less tax government takes, the earlier in the
year it is.
"Tax Freedom Day is quite simply the day you stop working for the taxman, and
start working for yourself ...
"The next Conservative government will make Tax Freedom Day a Bank Holiday, to help you decide whether you get genuine value-for-money, in return for the
tax you pay."
Mr Howard accuses the government of introducing a total of 60 tax
rises, which together have pushed back Tax Freedom Day from 27 May in 1997 - the
year in which Labour came to power - to 9 June by 2005.
He says tax increases had resulted in limited returns, with one million people on NHS waiting lists, one in three children leaving primary
school without being able to read, write and count properly, and what he describes as rising crime.
"It's been a cycle of tax and spend and fail. And it's just not good
enough," said Mr Howard.
While the Tories say they are not making any promises about cutting taxes, they stress the idea is to bring greater "openness
and transparency" to taxation.
One aide said: "We are committed to giving the taxpayer a fair deal. We believe
this will create a great discipline...
"It is absolutely not a gimmick - it is a very, very serious
proposal. It is absolutely vital that we be open and transparent about how much
people are paying," he said.
Conservative Party Political Broadcast will be shown on BBC One on Thursday, 27 November at 2230 GMT