In a report, the independent Wealth Tax Commission called for a charge of 1% a year for five years on individual assets above £500,000. About 8 million residents would be affected. LONDON: A one-off 5% tax on wealth in the UK could raise more than £260bil (US$348bil) to help fix the coronavirus-hit public finances, according to a panel of experts. In a report, the independent Wealth Tax Commission called for a charge of 1% a year for five years on individual assets above £500,000. About 8 million residents would be affected. The debate over wealth taxes has gained momentum as the government considers how to address its fiscal situation, with the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting borrowing is on course to reach almost £400bil in the current fiscal year. At almost a fifth of the economy, that’s the largest deficit in peacetime history. The Wealth Tax Commission, led by researchers from the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics, said its estimates are based on total wealth including pensions and property, minus mortgages and other debts, and after splitting the value of shared assets such as a jointly owned family home. Setting the threshold at £2mil per individual would raise £80bil over five years and affect 626,000 people. The commission, which is made up of academics, policy makers and tax practitioners, said raising equivalent amounts elsewhere would require a broad-based raid on incomes and consumers by hiking income tax, national insurance contributions or value-added tax. A well-designed wealth tax would be “fairer and more economically efficient than alternative tax rises, ” it said. “It could be targeted at those with the most ability to pay based on their wealth and would be very difficult to avoid. The administrative costs on taxpayers and the government would be small relative to the revenue raised.” — Bloomberg
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