Tax waste mountain hits £88bn in decade

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BRITONS will “gift” £12.6bn this year to the taxman because they have failed to get a grip on their finances, according to a new survey.

At a time when many households are being squeezed, research compiled by unbiased.co.uk, the professional advice website, suggests that many people would be better off if they paid more attention to their taxes.

Each British taxpayer is set to waste an average of £421 in tax in 2012, according to unbiased.co.uk’s analysis.

Unbiased.co.uk’s annual tax action report, indicates that over the last 10 years, Britons have amassed a “phenomenal” tax waste mountain of £88.6bn.

This year is expected to represent the second highest tax wastage figure in that time, only pipped to the post by last year’s £13.5bn of “waste”.

The report has been carried out by Opinium Research on behalf of unbiased.co.uk. Opinium questioned a sample of 2,013 adults between February 3 and 6, and used data from HMRC to estimate the amount of “tax waste”.

According to the report, the biggest area of tax wastage in 2012 is going to be tax credits, resulting in £7.26bn being lost through people failing to claim their child tax credits, working tax credits and pension credits.

Failure to make use of tax relief on pension contributions is the second biggest area of tax wastage (more than £2.45bn), followed by tax inefficient charitable donations (more than £997m).

Around 85 per cent of Britons who were surveyed by Opinium Research said they hadn’t done anything in the past year to cut the amount of tax they pay.

Of those who have not taken any steps over the past year to reduce their tax liability, half (50 per cent) believe they are already as tax efficient as possible.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents said they didn’t know how to go about being more tax efficient.

Of the 15 per cent of Britons who have taken steps to reduce their tax liability, 40 per cent have changed the way they save or invest.

Karen Barrett, the chief executive of unbiased.co.uk, said: “Looking back at the last decade and the tax wastage figures in our reports, the numbers are just as shocking now as they were then. This year marks our second highest tax wastage figure on record, only marginally falling from a record high last year.

“The message is clear – tax affects pretty much every one of us and with an average of £421 up for grabs for each taxpayer, we should take some time and effort to ensure that we are being as tax efficient as possible.

“Our stats show that a quarter of people who have taken steps to reduce their tax liability have done so by enlisting the advice of a professional adviser, such as an accountant or independent financial adviser.

“Tax can be a complex area to understand and our report clearly shows that as a nation we are struggling to be as tax efficient as we could be.

“The way tax impacts on our lives will differ from situation to situation but we call on everyone to ‘take tax action’ and to check whether there are any areas where they could improve their tax efficiency.”

greg.wright@ypn.co.uk