Britons increasingly see climate-friendly taxes as fair

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
October 27, 2021, 4:30 AM GMT+0

The public’s views on taxation have changed significantly since 2015, with climate-friendly taxes becoming more popular

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on public finances. With Rishi Sunak announcing more than £40 billion tax rises this year, the message from the Treasury is clear: it’s time to foot the bill.

But not at all taxes are equitable, according to the public. YouGov tracker data shows that public opinion on taxation has changed considerably since 2015.

Among 11 types of taxes, Britons are most likely to brand the BBC licence fee as unfair, at 57% - up from 51% in 2015. Only a fifth (21%) now say it’s fair, compared with 30% previously.

Council tax comes second in perceived lack of fairness, with 45% of the public saying it’s unfair, while only a quarter (27%) say the opposite. In 2015, the public were slightly more likely to say it was fair than not at 42% to 38%.

Critics of council tax often highlight that it’s regressive as well as being based on house prices from 1991, and thousands of addresses are in the wrong band.

Many people likewise feel strongly about inheritance tax: 45% Britons also say it’s unfair, while three in ten people (23%) believe the opposite. Opinions towards it have softened in the past six years, with 59% to 22% previously deeming it unfair.

Following the recent social care announcements, perceived fairness of National Insurance as a form of tax has plummeted. While still seen as more fair than not (40% vs 27%), this represents a significant decline from 2015, when 56% of people considered it fair while only 21% did not. Indeed, this is a big leap from as recently as June of this year, when 46% considered it fair versus 15% unfair.

Meanwhile, public opinion on climate-friendly taxes has improved significantly. Britons are now much more inclined to say air passenger duty is fair rather than unfair at 40% vs 21%. This represents an improvement of the net score from -22 in 2015 to +19 now.

The same pattern is clear when it comes to tax on petrol and diesel. Two in five people (32%) say it’s equitable, while 38% say it’s not. With a net score of -6, this represents an improvement of 14 points since 2015.

Separately, stamp duty remains unpopular (24% fair vs 32% unfair), but has become more tolerated in the past six years. The current net score of -8 shows an improvement of 19 points.

This article originally appeared on Times Red Box

See the 2015 results here and the October 2021 results here