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Treasury could raise £16bn a year if shares and property were taxed like salaries

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Treasury could raise £16bn a year if shares and property were taxed like salaries

The treasury could raise an extra £16bn a year if the low tax rates on profits from shares and property were increased and brought back into line with taxes on salaries.

Exclusive analysis of data on the 540,000 wealthiest individuals in the UK – the top 1% – shows how decades of low taxes on capital gains, a type of income mainly available to the wealthiest in society, is creating a new breed of “super-gainers”.

The findings will boost calls for reforms which spread the tax burden more fairly. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, was criticised by members of his own party last month after increasing national insurance rates to raise billions for health and social care while leaving the earnings of the wealthiest largely untouched.

Under the current system, income – which covers earnings such as salaries – is taxed at a maximum rate of 45%. Capital gains – the profit made when an asset such as shares or property is sold for more than it cost to acquire – is taxed at much lower rates. Gains from shares attract a maximum rate of 20%, while the maximum for property is 28%.

Analysis has found that since the late 1990s, the proportion of earnings that are declared as capital gains by the top 1% has ballooned: just 3% of their income came through gains in 1997, doubling to 5.4% in 2010. By the 2017/18 tax year it had reached 13.3%.

Among the extremely rich – the 50,000 people who make up the 0.1% – the amount declared in capital gains grew by 213% between 2007 and 2017. By contrast, this group’s salaries have not grown as fast. Their median income grew by 22% between 2007 and 2017.

The analysis was carried out for the Guardian by Arun Advani, the assistant professor of economics at the University of Warwick’s CAGE Research Centre and a research fellow specialising in tax at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

“We’ve seen that by reducing capital gains tax rates, the primary thing it has done is encourage people to take income as capital gains, reducing tax take without providing any wider benefits. It is hard to explain why people who are more able to restructure their income in this way should pay less than those who can’t,” Advani said.

Much of the information about the capital gains of the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers is not available in any public dataset. The analysis was only possible because Advani and his fellow researchers were given access to a secure room at HMRC, where they were able to view anonymised tax returns for the super-rich.

In a paper published last year, based on their HMRC research, they found this type of income was very concentrated at the top, with the 5,000 highest earners receiving 54% of all capital gains.

Because gains are so lightly taxed, the wealthiest pay a far lower share of their earnings to the tax authorities than most workers. The top 0.001% – 400 people with earnings of between £9m and £11m – were paying an effective tax rate of just 21%, Advani found. This was slightly less than someone on median earnings of £30,000, whose effective rate was 21.4%.

Using the latest data on capital gains, as recorded by HMRC, Advani estimates that if gains were taxed at the same rates as salaries, an extra £13.8bn could have been collected the in 2016-17, rising to £15.9bn in 2019-20.

The idea of alignment is not new. The former Conservative chancellor Nigel Lawson introduced parity between capital gains and income taxes in 1988, but this was unpicked a decade later by his Labour successor, Gordon Brown.

“The chancellor doesn’t just decide how much money to raise, he also has to choose how to do it fairly. So far he has raised taxes on those who work to earn a living, in order to protect those who live off income from wealth,” Advani said.

Support for reform is growing. Labour has indicated it would increase taxes on earnings made from owning shares and investment properties, although the party has yet to set out detailed plans.

Adam Corlett, the principal economist at the Resolution Foundation, said there were “glaring holes” around capital gains which needed to be addressed.

“Thanks to the glaring holes in the capital gains tax system, it’s quite possible for the wealthiest to pay a tax rate of only 10%, or even zero, while low income workers pay much higher rates. That should change,” he said.

The argument against such tax reform is that it might, in turn discourage investment.

Helen Miller, the deputy director and head of tax at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said there were “good reasons to reform capital gains tax” but added it required a “two-pronged approach” to avoid the risk of discouraging investment.

“[The government] should reform the definition of what is taxed, including by removing some reliefs and adding others, which would allow it to raise rates while minimising distortions to saving and investment incentives,” she said.

Business

Nigeria oil production drops to 1.231m barrels per day- OPEC

OPEC: Russia-Ukraine war causing volatility in global energy market

Nigeria’s crude oil production suffered its second consecutive monthly decline since the beginning of this year, as it dropped to 1.231 million barrels per day in March, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries has revealed.

OPEC disclosed this in its latest Monthly Oil Market Report for April 2024, stating that crude oil production details which it got through direct communication from Nigeria showed that the country pumped less oil in March compared to February.

Data from the report indicated that Nigeria produced 1.322 million barrels per day of crude in February this year, but this dropped to 1.231mbpd in March, representing a plunge of 91mbpd.

The report further added that the country had produced 1.427mbpd of crude in January, but this was not sustained in February as it dropped in that month, while the southward oil production continued in March.

However, OPEC data showed that Nigeria’s average crude oil production in the first quarter of 2024 was 1.327mbpd, higher than the 1.313mbpd average oil production in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Nigeria’s first quarter oil output in 2024 was also higher than the 1.201mbpd average production in the third quarter of 2023.

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Emirates Airlines to resume Nigeria flights soon – Keyamo

Emirates, UAE, has concluded plans to resume flights with Nigeria.

This followed numerous visits from President Bola Tinubu to UAE over the communication breakdown between both countries.

Featuring on Arise Television on Monday, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, said the Emirates Airline had already indicated its readiness in a letter sent to the Nigerian Government.

Keyamo explained that what transpired during the earlier visit and resolution was not fake but was presented in a ‘hasty’ manner.

He said: “Emirates flight resumption is almost happening. I just received a letter from Emirates. The letter is on my phone now. They have gone through all the gamut and they are ready to come back. They will announce the date because to restart a route, they must get an aircraft for that route.

“I am announcing to Nigerians for the first time; that I just received a letter from Emirates now. The letter is with me. I have a hard copy thanking you for all the efforts we made. Mr President was the showman here. He was the one who pushed for it. He made my job easy because he went there, and had a diplomatic shuttle to resolve all the issues.

“That was why I said the last announcement was hasty and not fake news.

“They will announce the date for their next flight. We have received a letter confirming that all the issues have been resolved and prepared to start coming back. It may be before June.”

Apart from Emirates suspending flights to Nigeria, in 2022, the UAE Immigration Department notified its trade partners and travel agencies that it was stopping visa applications from 22 countries, 20 of which are African nations.

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CICB records 63% revenue growth in 2023

The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, CIBN, says it recorded a 63.60 per cent growth of operating revenue, which stood at N1.37 billion in 2023, marking a significant increase from the N837.94 million recorded in 2022.

CIBN’s president, Ken Opara, disclosed this on Saturday in Lagos.

Opara added that the cost-to-income ratio for the year ended December 31, 2023, stood at 50.72 per cent, down from 59.41 per cent in the corresponding period in 2022.

“I am particularly delighted that our institute continued to wax stronger financially, notwithstanding the economic downturns and headwinds in 2023.

“It is on record that our institute, for the first time, crossed the one billion Naira mark by achieving a Net Operating Surplus of N1.371 billion in 2023 when compared with N837.943 million achieved in 2022, representing a growth of 63.60 per cent.

“Similarly, total revenue grew from N2.065 billion recorded in 2022 to N2.782 billion in 2023, representing 34.72 per cent growth, while total assets grew from N7.821 billion in 2022 to N9.119 billion in 2023.

“The cost-to-income ratio for the year ended December 31, 2023, stood at 50.72 per cent, down from 59.41 per cent in the corresponding period in 2022. This ratio is way below the approved Governing Council threshold of 61 per cent for the 2023 financial year.

“I am persuaded that with prudent and efficient management of resources, as well as diligent execution of our strategic plan, our institute will sustain this northward trajectory,” he said.

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