No easing of British tax burden within five years: minister

29th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The overall tax burden in Britain will remain at its current level for the next five years, a top Treasury minister suggested in an interview out Sunday.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, finance minister George Osborne's deputy, told The Observer newspaper that total tax revenue will have to stay at current levels to put Britain's finances back on track.

"The tax burden is necessary as a significant contribution to getting the country's finances in order," he said.

"So it will have to stay at that level for quite some time."

Asked if a reduction in the overall tax burden would be possible once Britain's books were in order, he replied: "You are asking me to take decisions for five years down the line now and I am not going to do that."

Alexander said he wanted to see a "rebalanced and fairer tax system", so that people on lower incomes pay less tax as an incentive for them to find and stay in jobs.

That suggests higher earners would have little respite from tax to look forward to before 2015.

"The plan we set out is to rebalance the tax system," Alexander said.

"We need the tax revenues from the taxes we are putting up to help us reduce the deficit."

In June, the new coalition government launched an emergency package of higher taxation and spending cuts aimed at slashing a huge public deficit amid concern about sky-high debt levels in Europe.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne announced that he would slap a levy on banks, ramp up taxation on goods and services, freeze public sector pay and slash benefits spending in an attempt to cut the public deficit.

Osborne blamed the dire state of the public finances on the previous Labour government, which left him nursing a downwardly-revised record deficit of 154.7 billion pounds (240.1 billion dollars, 188.4 billion euros) in the 2009-2010 financial year.

© 2010 AFP

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