A recent article over on BBC news discusses yesterday’s VAT increase from 17.5% to 20% and how it is going to cost the average UK family £7.50 a week, or about £389 and how it’s going to hit living standards, hinder economic growth, cost thousands of jobs, and make it even harder for families to make ends meet when they are already feeling squeezed. I have to agree with these points, especially when PayScale UK reports the average office administrator as making only £16,150 a year, the average retail store manager as making only £21,477 a year, and the average designer a mere £20,006 a year (which is not much more than the median income of £16,400 a year). For these people, that’s another 1.8% to 2.4% of their annual salary lost to taxes. These people already lose at least 36% of their income to taxes (as per howitends.co.uk) through Tax and Personal Insurance Contributions. When you also consider that the average property tax equals almost 7% of their income, and add this new tax, the average UK citizen is now losing about 45% of their income to taxes — quite a burden in these tough economic times.
But the story doesn’t stop here. In many sectors, such as logistics and (grocery) retail, profit margins in a good year now sit at 3% to 5%. What is a 2.5% tax increase going to do to these business? Especially if, after having one or two bad years of barely breaking even, the profit margin is currently sitting between 0% and 1%? At the very least, you’re going to see jobs disappear. In the worst case, this is going to force more closures, which is going to be very disruptive at home and across the globe for certain multi-nationals. I have to agree with Labour leader Ed Miliband on this one — it’s the wrong tax at the wrong time. In most countries, the private sector is the only chance they have of getting out of the recession. If the private sector is taxed out of business, then there’s no way the country is going to recover (especially in the UK which has a long history of the public sector moving at a snail’s pace).