Back in the Middle Ages there was a terrible practice called “Serfdom” or “Villeinage” whereby peasant farmers were forced to work one or even two days a week on somebody else’s land, and were only allowed to work their own land on the remaining four days. Thus was their labour taxed to pay for the public goods that their political masters thought vital to the wellbeing of society: cathedrals, castles and wars with the French.
By comparison, our far more civilised society has found a way of taxing the labour of the common man far more subtly, by taking approximately two fifths of every pound we earn. Funnily enough, it still equates to two working days a week. It’s as though nothing has changed.
To make it entirely clear to us just how much of our labour our masters take from us for their own ends, the Adam Smith Institute has devised a jolly wheeze. Reversing the trick by which the Government moved from making us work for them directly for two days a week to taking a portion of our hourly wage, they have taken to calculating it annually.
According to ASI, if we worked solidly for the Government until our annual tax bill was paid, and only then began to work for ourselves, we would have to work on the royal demesne (or rather, at the behest of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) until 31 May. Then, from 1 June, we’d be working for ourselves, able to keep every penny we make.
So happy Tax Freedom Day everybody! From here on in, you’re working for yourselves, and not for the feudal masters.