Unlike Americans, Brits think taxation is moral

November 06, 2014, 3:51 PM UTC

Most Americans think that their moral right to keep the money they earn trumps their duty to contribute towards public services, the exact opposite of attitudes in Britain

Compared to the United States, people in Britain enjoy a far wider range of public services. For example, here the NHS covers the entire country but in America 41 million people are uninsured and live without regular healthcare. The welfare state isn't cheap, however, and people in Britain pay for it. In the United States the tax burden is 25.1% of GDP, but in Britain taxes consume 35.5% of the total economy. 

The latest research from YouGov shows that most Americans (53%) say that your right to keep the money you earn is a stronger moral argument than a duty to contribute towards public services, something only 37% of Americans feel is the stronger moral issue. The situation is reversed in Britain, where 63% of people say that your duty to contribute is a stronger moral argument than your right to keep the money you earn.

Attitudes differ so significantly between the US and the UK that the responses of Democrats in the US are largely the same as the responses of right-wing, Conservative Party voters in the UK. 56% of Democrats and 55% of Conservatives say that the duty to contribute to public services is the stronger moral argument. This compares to 71% of left-wing Labour voters in the UK, and only 24% of Republicans in the US. 

Full poll results can be found here (US) and here (UK).