HMRC statistics released today show an almost tenfold increase in the numbers of UK taxpayers over the past 80 years, while there has been a doubling in the numbers registered for VAT since its introduction four decades ago.
HMRC’s figures on numbers of taxpayers and registered traders show that back when records began in 1938-39 estimates suggest there were some 3.8m people liable for income tax. The department cautions that comparisons are not exact as some early figures are not precise or are calculated differently as different rules applied, including joint taxation of married couples. Its figure for individuals paying income tax in the year 2012-13 is 30m.
Up until the early 1970s, HMRC’s coffers saw extra revenue from those taxpayers charged a so-called ‘surtax’, an additional income tax on higher personal incomes. Around 105,000 people were assessed for this in 1938-39 and the numbers deemed liable to pay more tax on income peaked at 474,000 in 1968-69 before falling to 370,000 in 1972-73, the year the surtax was abolished.
On its introduction in 1972-73, HMRC records show that 981,000 people registered for VAT, compared to 1.91m currently. The year prior to the financial crash, 2007-08, saw the highest number of VAT registrations so far, at just over 2m.
HMRC’s statistics show wide differences in how many individuals have paid capital gains tax, ranging from 410,000 in 1972-73 shortly after its introduction, to just 75,000 in the depths of the recession in 1994-95. In comparison, estimates indicate 271,000 paid capital gains tax in 2007-08, dropping to 145,000 the following year.
The number of companies paying corporation tax held steady at between 175,000 and 250,000 during the decade between 1973-74 and 1984-85. Since then, it has jumped from 580,000 in 2002-03 to a peak of 925,000 in 2007-08. The statistics also show a very marked decline in the number of operators paying landfill tax, down from just over 1m in 1996-97 to 207,000 currently.