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Tax revenues are forecast to be £760 billion in 2019–20, or 34½% of national income – the highest sustained share since the 1940s, though not high by international standards. Almost two-thirds of tax revenue comes from just three taxes – income tax, National Insurance contributions and VAT (see chart).

Given pressures from demographic change and the various spending promises being made by the main parties, taxes might need to rise further. But the next government will also need to respond to threats to existing revenue streams, such as the shift from employment to self-employment (which is taxed less) and declining revenue from petrol and diesel taxes. A reliance on asking big companies and ‘the rich’ to pay more has it its limits and would be far from risk-free.

In the run-up to the 2019 general election we will be publishing analysis on what has happened to taxes to date and what the parties are proposing.

The composition of UK tax revenue, 2019–20


The composition of UK tax revenue 2019–20


Useful resources

Election 2019 analysis

Tax in the manifestos

The three main political parties offer voters widely different choices on tax.

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The distributional impact of personal tax and benefit reforms, 2010 to 2019

The tax and benefit system has undergone significant reform since 2010, with large cuts to working-age benefits, a rise in the main rate of VAT, increases in the rate of the state pension, and reductions in direct tax, including a big rise in the income tax personal allowance. In this briefing note we investigate the impact that these reforms have had on household incomes.

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Conservatives’ proposed NICs cut would cost at least £2.4 billion a year and mostly benefit middle- and higher-income households

Boris Johnson has announced that he would raise the threshold for paying National Insurance contributions (NICs) in the first Budget of a Conservative government. This observation examines the effect of raising the NICs threshold to £9,500, assuming it is implemented in April 2020.

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Labour’s proposed income tax rises for high-income individuals

The Labour Party plans to increase income tax for individuals with annual taxable incomes over £80,000. Under the current system, income tax is payable on incomes above the personal allowance of £12,500 a year.

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Cancelling further cut to corporation tax rate leaves revenue the same as before the 2008 crisis

Boris Johnson has today announced that a Conservative government would not go ahead with the planned reduction in the rate of corporation tax from 19% to 17% next April.

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Tax and spending since the crisis: is austerity over?

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis and associated recession, government borrowing soared to more than 10% of national income. Borrowing has since been reduced through a combination of net tax rises, cuts to the generosity of the working-age social security system and cuts to public service spending.

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How high are our taxes, and where does the money come from?

Taxation is set to be a central policy battleground in this election, as in so many others. This Briefing Note provides some essential factual background to the parties’ claims and policies, placing the UK’s current tax burden in historical and international context and discussing where – and who – the revenue comes from.

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Background analysis


Briefing notes

How do other countries raise more in tax than the UK?

The effect of taxes and benefits on UK inequality

Tax and spending since the crisis: is austerity over?

How high are our taxes, and where does the money come from?



Is our tax system fair? It depends…

Cancelling further cut to corporation tax rate leaves revenue the same as before the 2008 crisis


Green Budget analysis

Options for cutting direct personal taxes and supporting low earners

Options for raising taxes

Tax, legal form and the gig economy 



Better budgets: making tax policy better



Reforming the Tax System for the 21st Century: The Mirrlees Review



IFS at 50: the future of tax

Patching up business taxes

Options for raising taxes

Tax reliefs: the good, the bad and the money


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