New research published today by the Equality Trust, a think tank which works to reduce income inequality, has revealed that seven in ten UK citizens wrongly believe that the country’s wealthiest taxpayers contribute a higher percentage of their earnings than the poorest.

According to the study conducted by Ipsos Mori, the UK’s poorest 10% have an effective tax rate of 43%, seven percentage points higher than the richest group, who pay 35%. According to the Trust, the results reveal a troubling gulf between perception of tax contributions and reality. Eight in ten people believe households in the wealthier group should pay a higher percentage of their income as taxes, however this is not reflected in the current tax regime.

The poll took in the views of 1,000 individuals and also found that 96% of those surveyed believed the UK’s tax system should be more progressive.

The Trust’s Director Duncan Exley said:

“The public are misled about this country’s tax system. They think households with the highest incomes pay more than those with the lowest, whereas the opposite is the case. Even more concerning is how little our current system matches people’s preferences on tax. There is clearly strong support for a system that places far less burden on low-income households.

“Tax plays a hugely important role in people’s lives. It can determine the affordability of basic necessities like food and bills. But it can also determine the quality of local services, healthcare and education. It is important that people are aware of who pays tax, but equally we must build a tax system that better reflects people’s preferences. That’s why we’re calling on all parties seeking to form the government from 2015 to commit to the principle that any changes in tax policy are progressive.”

Photo by Alan Cleaver