Autumn Statement 2023: Taxation and Gender

Date Posted: Thursday 9th November 2023

A pre-budget briefing from the Women's Budget Group

BudgetFiscal PolicyTaxation

“Instead of giving tax breaks in an attempt to court popularity, policy makers should realise that public attitudes to tax, particularly to its role in enabling good quality public services, are more fluid.”

Because of structural gender inequalities in the labour market and society – and because women are more likely to be unpaid carers – they find themselves in a particularly vulnerable position amid the spiralling cost of living and cuts in public services and social security, making fair taxation a crucial tool to restore their living standards.

This tax briefing shows how the tax system could be made fairer, so that those with the greatest wealth and highest incomes pay the greatest share of tax, ensuring that those who can afford to and/or have gained from current crises contribute to relieving the hardship others experience.

Key points:

  • Tax is beneficial because it raises revenue that funds critical social infrastructure. This includes all our public services, such as health and NHS, adult social care, education and childcare, and our social security system.
  • Because women tend to rely more on public services, cuts to critical social infrastructure have a disproportionately detrimental impact on them.
  • Wealth inequality has increased even more than income inequality over recent years. The under-taxation of wealth disproportionately benefits men because they have more wealth and reinforces gender gaps in income and wealth.
  • High levels of wealth should be taxed progressively. Polling by YouGov in 2023 shows 73% of people in Great Britain would support taxing wealth over £5m.
  • All forms of income and capital gains should be taxed in the same way as earnings.
  • National Insurance Contributions should be made fairer by abolishing the Upper Earnings Limit and making NI payable on all forms on income and by those above State Pension age.
  • The excess profits of oil and gas companies should be taxed at near 100% and the loopholes in the current Energy Profits Levy removed. New ways of using tax to prevent environmental damage that do not increase inequalities should be explored.
  • A wholesale reform of the tax system – including how it taxes inheritances, wealth, capital gains, property, earnings and profits and the use of tax allowances – is needed to make it more progressive, less open to abuse and better able to contribute to the funding of public expenditure. Without such reform gender inequalities will widen.