Why taxation of wealth is a feminist issue: A gendered analysis of wealth in Great Britain
Date Posted: Monday 2nd October 2023
A report by the Women's Budget Group
Like income, wealth is unequally distributed between men and women, and this is closely connected to women taking on more unpaid caring roles.
Wealth inequality hampers social mobility, perpetuates poverty cycles, and restricts access to quality education, healthcare, and other essential services. Moreover, wealth inequality concentrates resources among a small rich group, limiting social mobility opportunities for the majority, and with adverse impacts on the distribution of power and decision-making in society.
Wealth itself is not directly taxed in the UK, and capital gains and some income from wealth are taxed at a lower rate than income from employment. This under-taxation increases income and wealth inequality, reinforcing existing disparities and gender gaps. We argue that the taxation of wealth and of income from wealth is a feminist issue because it can help reduce the gender wealth gap and, at the same time, raise public revenue to strengthen our social infrastructure.
This report looks at how different types of wealth (such as property, physical wealth, financial, and private pension) are distributed between men and women across different household types and age groups. It draws on data from the Wealth and Assets Survey between April 2018 and March 2020, covering England, Scotland and Wales.
- Men have on average £92,762 more in total wealth than women, a gap of 35%.
- Among 25 to 34, the average gender wealth gap is negligible. Within the ages of 35 to 44, it is 28%. After age 45, the average gender wealth gap starts growing significantly. By age 64, the average gender wealth gap is 42%.
- For men, the primary source of wealth is their private pension, which is theirs alone. In contrast, for women over 50% of their wealth comes from property and physical wealth (household possessions and vehicles), which is shared with other household members.
- Men have an average private pension wealth of £83,879 more than women, a gap of 90%.
- Men hold nearly three times the value of UK shares that women do.
Taxes and public spending are important ways to redistribute resources and reduce gender inequalities. We must reform our tax system to make it more progressive: those with more should contribute more.
- A 2% annual wealth tax on people with £10 million in assets could raise £22 billion a year.
- Equalising capital gains with income tax rates could raise up to £15.2 billion a year.
As men hold more wealth than women, taxation of wealth would immediately reduce wealth disparities by gender. It would help fund our public services, invest in social infrastructure, an essential element for a green and caring economy, and reduce gender inequalities.
Please note: a previous version of this report included a mismatch in the percentage gap and age band in the key findings on the gendered distribution of wealth by age (on page 2). This was changed on 3 October 2023 to include the correct figures. We apologise for any inconvenience.