Tag Archives: politics

Doesn’t add up

Today the Telegraph had an article claiming that “the top one per cent of British earners are now paying almost 30 per cent of all income tax.” It’s then painted as a bad, unexpected revelation. But I’m not sure that should be the case. In one of my mini-Ben Goldacre moments, I think it’s one of those areas where your intuition and the numbers don’t necessarily align.

This post isn’t about politics or fairness or even, really, taxes. Instead it’s about maths, because what the story fails to say is that you would absolutely expect a small number of high earners to foot most of the bill.

Let’s make some silly assumptions and see how the numbers work out:

  • Everyone pays the same 20% tax rate. We’re ignoring the tax-free component so that should work out to be considerably less than the rich pay but more than almost everyone else
  • We’ll say that 90% of people earn 20000. The national average is higher than that, but there are a lot of people who work part time and pay no income tax at all
  • And we’ll say the last 10% earn 60000. I don’t know how realistic that is as an average, but it’s nearer high-rate tax band cut-over than it is the millions that some CEOs and bankers get and it’s still a long way from the 50p tax rate

How do the numbers work?

The people on the lower income each pay 4000 in tax and the more comfortable pay 12000. But there are nine of the average people for every one of the rich, making the total take 4000 * 9 + 12000 * 1, or 48000.

So the high earner pays 12000 of the complete tax take of 48000, which is 25%.

(If you increase the tax rate on our hypothetical higher earner to 30% he ends up paying a third of all income tax.)

As I say, I don’t want to get into the fairness of it all, but a little maths, some wild assumptions and no research shows that, actually, the rich probably should be paying a reasonable percentage of the total income tax bill.

My delicious.com bookmarks for August 25th through September 1st

The weird world of the Daily Mail

Today the Daily Mail is complaining about a joke that was broadcast on the News Quiz in October last year. (Is it still considered news six months after the event?)

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading the article, so, to summarise:

  1. Broadcasting a joke that implies, but doesn’t use, a swear word is bad
  2. But printing the same joke in a newspaper is okay
  3. Broadcasting scantily clad women dancing is bad
  4. But printing pictures of the same is okay
  5. Putting quotes around a word to indicate disdain is good writing
  6. A single complaint represents The Silent Majority
  7. Mob rule would be a good thing
  8. Potentially causing offence is grounds for severe sanctions
  9. (But see bullets two and four for exceptions)
  10. Knee-jerk liberals — whatever they are — are a wide-spread problem
  11. Knee-jerk tabloids are okay
  12. Personal responsibility is good
  13. (Unless we have to exercise it ourselves)
  14. Your opinion is wrong
  15. Mine is right
  16. Banning stuff that we don’t like represents freedom
  17. Stating things as fact makes them true
  18. Black is white
  19. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia

I may have veered off target a little at the end but I think that’s pretty close to the core of the article. Did I miss anything?

My delicious.com bookmarks for March 9th through March 12th

My delicious.com bookmarks for February 8th through February 9th

  • The rise and rise of the cognitive elite – "It seems unfair that footballers, bankers and tycoons earn more money than they know what to do with whereas jobless folk and single parents struggle to pay the rent, notes Mr Saunders. Yet it also seems unfair to take money from those who have worked hard and give it to those who have not, or to take away the profits of those who have risked their life savings to bring a new invention to market in order to help those who have risked nothing."
  • Jaguar E-Type turns 50 – Some designs can stand the test of time. The Jaguar E-Type is one of them.
  • iOS Debugging Magic – Some great iOS debugging hints.