Britain’s Poorest Households Pay More Of Their Income in Tax Than The Richest

Britain’s poorest households pay a greater proportion of their income in taxes than the richest, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Analysis of the ONS’ Effects of Taxes and Benefits publication, released today, found:

  • The poorest 10% of households paid on average 42% of their income in tax in 2015/16.
  • The richest 10% of households however paid on average just 34.3% of their income in tax
  • Council tax and VAT hit the poorest particularly hard, with the poorest 10% of households paying 7% of their gross income in council tax, compared to just 1.5% for the richest, and 12.5% of gross income paid in VAT (5% for rich)
  • Despite paying far less of their income in tax, the richest 10% have on average a gross income of £110,632, 10 times that of the poorest (£10,992)
  • Post tax (including direct and indirect taxes and cash benefits) the poorest 10% have on average £6,370 and the richest 10% have £72,746

Dr. Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust, said:

“When the super-rich are paying less in taxes than their cleaners, you know something has gone disastrously wrong with our broken, regressive tax system.   

“Time after time we see sensible reforms attacked and rejected in favour of tax cuts for billionaires. These do nothing for ordinary people struggling to keep a roof over their head. 

“If political parties are serious about representing working people, they need to shift the burden of tax to those with the broadest shoulders. Only then will we see a fairer and more equal society.” 

Notes to editors

The Equality Trust is a registered charity that works to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality. UK income inequality is among the highest in the developed world and evidence shows that this results in poorer mental and physical health, higher violent crime, poorer educational outcomes and lower levels of trust. Inequality affects us all. For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact

All figures above are obtained from ONS Effects of taxes and benefits on UK household income: financial year ending 2016 Average incomes, taxes and benefits of ALL households by decile group, 2015/16