A taxing proposal

July 25, 2003

Nicholas Barr says that if higher education is funded from general taxation, "the taxes of a hospital porter would pay for the degree of the old Etonian" ("MPs maul ministers' blueprint", THES, July 11).

Is Barr unaware that the bottom 10 per cent of income taxpayers, who may well include most hospital porters, contributed £307 million to total income tax in 2002-03 (about £110 each), while the top 10 per cent, who undoubtedly account for most Etonians, contributed £62 billion (£18,000 each)? Does he know of any hospital porter who pays income tax of just £6,000 a year above the cost of his or her own benefits (such as local tax rebates) - that being about the average annual cost of university degrees?

Tim Curtin Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies Australian National University

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