Labour has branded George Osborne the "Robin-Hood-in-reverse Chancellor", as the party sought MPs' backing for a motion calling on the government "not to cut the top rate of tax for the richest earners at a time when the economy is flatlining".
Mr Osborne announced in his 2012 Budget statement that the rate of tax for incomes over £150,000 a year will be reduced from 50% to 45%. The change comes into effect from 6 April 2013.
Opening an opposition-day debate on 28 November 2012, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves said: "The truth about this government is if you're a pensioner, you pay more; if you're a low-paid parent, you pay more; if you're a family working hard to get on in life and provide for your children, you pay more.
"But if you're a millionaire, you pay less. It tells you everything you need to know about this government and its values."
She concluded: "For many, 2012 will be remembered as the year the chancellor's drastic cuts began to hit home. But for the richest, 2013 will be remembered as the year they received their tax giveaway from this Robin-Hood-in-reverse chancellor."
But Treasury Minister David Gauke described this as "bluster".
Retaining the top rate of income tax at 50% would not raise "any amount of revenue and it may even cost money", he claimed.
"At a time when the UK must compete to prosper in a globalised world, at a time when we have the choice as to whether we sink or swim, those who advocate a 50p rate are taking the easy choice: short-term populism triumphing over increased competitiveness."
He accused Labour of promoting a "traditional message of 'bash the rich'" which could deter wealth-creators from investing in the UK.
At the end of the debate, MPs rejected Labour's motion by 291 votes to 222, a government majority of 69.