- REUTERS/Kirsty Wigglesworth
- Fifteen people made donations of nearly £200,000 in the year to March, according to figures from the Debt Management Office.
- These donations are known as “patriotic gifts” and date back to the nineteenth century.
- The value of donations has reduced significantly since the financial crisis, while national debt has increased.
LONDON – Fifteen British citizens volunteered to pay nearly £200,000 in extra tax last year, according to figures from the Debt Management Office.
A total of £180,393 was donated by 15 people in the year to March 2017 in what are known as “patriotic gifts.” This is a tradition dating back to the Napoleonic wars and the National Debt Reduction Act of 1823, in which citizens help reduce national debt by gifting money to the Treasury.
This year’s figure compares to £14,558 donated in 2016 and £7,823 in 2015. But austerity appears to be biting: four times as much money was donated in the seven years before the 2008 financial crisis as in the eight years following it, according to analysis by the Financial Times.
Their analysis shows about 200 gifts have been made since 2000, and the government’s “donations and bequests account” has received a total of £8.3 million.
But this is loose change compared to the UK’s national debt, which more than doubled since the crisis and has reached a record high of nearly £2 trillion.
According to think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the national debt is unlikely to fall to pre-crisis levels, of 40% of national income, until after 2060.
In comparison to Treasury gifts, the British public donated £9.7 billion to charity last year, according to the Charities Aid Foundation, with more than half of people giving money and one in six volunteering.
HM Revenue and Customs also encourages people to make “voluntary restitutions” if they owe tax but are unlikely to be pursued for it by the authorities.