UK married couples with children are paying a third more in tax than similar families in other developed countries, according to a new report.
The study, produced by Christian charity CARE, highlighted what it called a “socially destructive inequality in the UK tax system”.
Among the report’s other findings it showed that married couples with children and one earner bringing in up to £33,000 a year pay 18 per cent more tax in the UK than in other EU countries.
And the proportion of income taken in tax from middle income families has more than doubled in 40 years, despite having stayed the same for single people.
CARE’s Director of Parliamentary Affairs, Dan Boucher, said: “The failure of the UK tax system to recognise family responsibilities makes it one of the most individualistic tax systems in the world.
“It is imperative that the next Government addresses the current anomaly so that single-earner married couples on average incomes with children are not penalised as at present.”
There has been fierce political debate recently over recognising marriage in the tax system.
Conservative Party plans to address the issue if they are elected in the upcoming General Election have been labelled as ‘social engineering’ by Labour and a “bribe” by the Liberal Democrats.
However Mr Boucher said: “Far from constituting a ‘marriage bribe’ as was suggested recently, the introduction of the Transferable Personal Allowance – so a non working partner can transfer their tax allowance to their working partner – would actually help address a socially destructive inequality in the UK tax system.”
CARE’s report, which also compares the UK system to the USA, says in America a married couple with one earner on an average wage and two children would pay only 48.2 per cent of what a single person would pay.
But that figure is 75 per cent for the equivalent situation in the UK.
Today, in a Daily Mail editorial, attention was drawn to the “startling” figures.
The newspaper said: “This is economic and social madness. Every study agrees that marriage is by far the surest cement for keeping families together.
“And through the ages, the family has proved by far the most compassionate and cost-effective means of delivering welfare to young and old.”
The Conservative plans to recognise marriage in the tax system do not include specifics as yet.
However David Cameron has made clear that any tax plan for married couples will also include those in same-sex civil partnerships.