UK's high and low earners are seventh in most-taxed league

The UK has one of the highest tax rates for both low and high earners out of nearly 20 major economies, research indicated today.

This country has the seventh highest tax rate for people on less than 15,242 a year out of 19 countries, while it is also ranked seventh for the amount of tax it takes from people earning more than 121,900, according to accountants UHY.

Someone who was on the equivalent of 15,242 in the UK would get to keep only 83.2 per cent of their income, compared with 100 per cent if they earned it in Dubai, 95.7 per cent in Ireland and just over 90 per cent in Japan and the United States.

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Only Germany, India, France, Italy, Estonia and Mexico take more tax and social security contributions from the low-paid than the UK.

Low-paid workers in Germany get to keep the lowest proportion of their pay at just 72.6 per cent, followed by those in India at 74.7 per cent and France at 75 per cent.

High earners in the UK take home only 60.9 per cent of their pay once they have paid tax, considerably less than the 87 per cent they would keep in Russia and the 80.4 per cent they would retain in Egypt, while Dubai is tax-free.

Italy has the highest tax rates for wealthy people, with workers on the equivalent of 120,000 able to keep only 54.1 per cent of their earnings, while the situation is not much better in the Netherlands at 54.7 per cent or Ireland and Germany at 56 per cent.

Mark Giddens, private client partner of UHY Hacker Young in the UK, said: "The government is now facing a difficult dilemma.

"Achieving a more sustainable fiscal position will be difficult without raising taxes, but higher taxes are likely to hinder economic growth. The 50 per cent tax rate on people earning more than 150,000 a year, combined with increases in national insurance, has undoubtedly made the UK less attractive to high earners. Many of these people will be highly skilled and they are usually very mobile."

Meanwhile, a separate study today shows British workers have reformed their financial behaviour following the recession, with people more reluctant to take on debt and instead focusing on eking out their money

The proportion of people able to make their money last between paydays has risen from 75 per cent in 2008 to 81 per cent now, according to credit-rating agency Experian.

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At the same time, 88 per cent of people said they now considered their ability to pay back money before borrowing it, up from 83 per cent three years ago, while only 12 per cent of people are struggling to keep up with their bills and credit commitments, compared with 16 per cent.

However, despite the more positive overall results, there are indications that some consumers are struggling, with 16 per cent of people admitting they are always at least 1,000 overdrawn.

Families with young children are more likely to think about paying back money before they borrow it than they were in 2008.

The number of high-income families with older children who are always at least 1,000 in the red has also more than doubled to 33 per cent from 15 per cent previously.

Nigel Wilson, managing director of Experian Marketing Information Services, UK and Ireland, said: "Our study reflects the unprecedented changes that have occurred in the UK economy. The defining characteristic is greater personal finance acumen - whether that is making money last longer until the next pay day, through to thinking twice about ‘nice-to-have' purchases."