More than half support 'mansion tax', research shows

The majority of people in Britain support the proposed ‘mansion tax’, according to research by the University of Birmingham.

But more than half of those surveyed do not think there should be any tax on inheritance.

The findings, published in a briefing paper by the University of Birmingham’s Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM), give an overview of public attitudes to taxation ahead of May’s general election.

A survey of more than 2,000 adults in Britain asked respondents how they felt about four potential tax changes: the introduction of a mansion tax; council tax reform; capital gains tax reform; and the re-introduction of a 50% top rate of income tax. They were then asked for their views on inheritance tax before being given the opportunity to give their perceptions of wealth inequality in the UK.

The survey found that:

  • The mansion tax is the most popular of the proposed reforms, with 53% strongly supporting or tending to support a 1% tax on properties worth more than £2 million. 22% oppose it, with 21% unsure either way.
  • Support for a mansion tax is strongest in Scotland, Wales, the North East and Yorkshire/Humberside.
  • Less than half the population of London, the South East and the East support a mansion tax.
  • A flat council tax rate of 0.6% of the value of a property (as an alternative to a mansion tax) is supported by 40% of people, with 27% unsure either way.
  • 45% of people support increasing capital gains tax to 45%, with 23% unsure.
  • 44% support the re-introduction of a 50% top rate of income tax, with 19% unsure.
  • 52% think no inheritances should be taxed.
  • People over 65 were much less likely (41%) to say no inheritances should be taxed.

Professor Karen Rowlingson, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘Wealth taxation currently yields relatively little revenue in the UK compared with other taxes, but our research shows there is considerable public appetite for raising more money for the public purse from such taxes, particularly a mansion tax.’

Professor Andy Lymer, Professor of Accounting and Taxation at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘Understanding public attitudes to tax is important in creating effective tax systems. However, our knowledge is very limited of what these attitudes really are, and how they are evolving in the UK post-financial crisis. This survey suggests, however, that there is an appetite for more wealth-related taxes if applied appropriately. This is therefore something politicians need to consider.’

The survey was carried out by TNS on behalf of CHASM.

ENDS

For further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Stuart Gillespie in the University of Birmingham press office on +44 (0)121 414 9041. Out of hours, please call +44 (0)7789 921 165.

Notes to editors

CHASM

At a time of increasing economic uncertainty and growing inequality, the UK, like other advanced economies, has seen a shift from collective welfare provision towards private individual responsibility and risk. However, many people do not have the financial means or capability to manage this effectively. The University of Birmingham’s Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management’s (CHASM) role is to explore the ongoing changes to financial security.

The aim of CHASM is to provide a focus for world-class research on the role of assets and their distribution in people’s lives, from pensions to housing to financial savings.

CHASM is the first university-based, interdisciplinary research centre to focus on:

  • Financial security
  • Financial capabilities
  • Financial inclusion
  • Taxation