Now I know I like to cite Dan Mitchell from the CATO institute a bit too much. But he has correctly pointed out that the UK is a good model for showing how the laffer curve works.
A funny thing often happens on the way to soaking the rich: They don’t stick around for the bath. Take Britain, where Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs service reports that the number of taxpayers declaring £1 million a year in income fell by more than 60% in fiscal 2010-2011 from the year before. That was the year that millionaires became liable for the 50% income-tax rate that Gordon Brown’s government introduced in its final days in 2010, up from the previous 40% rate. So, the total number of millionaire tax filers plunged to 6,000 in 2010-2011, from 16,000 in 2009-2010. The new tax was meant to raise about £2.5 billion more revenue. So much for that. In 2009-2010 British millionaires contributed about £13.4 billion to the public coffers, or just under 9% of the total tax liability of all taxpayers that year. At the 50% rate, the shrunken pool yielded £6.5 billion, or about 4.4%.
He also points out the three main points which explain why the laffer curve works:
- When tax rates increase, sometimes people engage in tax avoidance, lowering their tax liabilities legally.
- When tax rates change, sometimes people choose to alter their levels of work, saving, and investment.
- And when tax rates go up, sometimes people resort to illegal steps to protect themselves from the tax authority.
Finally, I love how he refers to the current government as the squishy Tory-Liberal coalition. I now like to call the tory party the faux-conservatives. They could go much further with their tax cuts and reducing the burden of government but they seem to have lost their backbone.