Where does your tax go?

5 min read



We all know we have to pay taxes, but do you know how they're spent?

Most of us will think we're paying a lot of tax at one point or another, but we don't often think about where it goes. Taxes are collected by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on behalf of the Government to help pay for public services such as the welfare system, health and education, and other public investments like transport.

You're allowed to earn a certain amount of income each year before you pay any tax – this is called your Personal Allowance, and it's set at £12,500 for the 2019/20 tax year. You'll then pay 20% tax on your earnings between £12,501 and £50,000, 40% on earnings between £50,001 to £150,000, and 45% if you earn £150,001 and over. 

It might seem like a lot, but we may not consider what important things the money's being used for. Find out how your taxes are spent on different areas of the economy, and public services, below. 

Where is the UK's tax money spent doughnut chart. This image is an infographic and has alternative text available if you are using a screen reader.

Welfare £174.4 bn (23.8%)
Health £145.8 bn (19.9%)
State Pensions £93.8 bn (12.8%)
Education £87.8 bn (12.0%)
National Debt Interest £44.5 bn (6.1%)
Defence £38.7 bn (5.3%)
Public Order & Safety £31.6 bn (4.3%)
Transport £31.2 bn (4.3%)
Business & Industry £21.4 bn (2.9%)
Government Administration £15.2 bn (2.1%)
Environment £11.4 bn (1.6%)
Culture (e.g. sports, libraries, museums) £11.8 bn (1.6%)
Housing and utilities (e.g. street lights) £12.1 bn (1.6%)
Overseas Aid £8.6 bn (1.2%)
UK Contributions to EU budget £5.4 bn (0.7%)

Source: GOV.UK and Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2018. The data used in this chart is based on the 2017/18 financial year. 

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