Government gifts taxpayers £5.2 billion tax bill this Christmas

Embargoed: 00:01 Thursday 16 December 2021


The TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) has today revealed the squeeze on families’ pockets this Christmas. The research shows that taxpayers will pay over £5.2 billion in taxes on their festive spending.

Over the Christmas period, the average household will pay an extra £191.75 in taxes - the same as buying 23 Tesco Finest 800g Christmas puddings, enough to serve 184 people. These festive taxes, as calculated by the TPA, include the cost of VAT as well as fuel duty, sugar tax, and alcohol taxes.

After almost two years of coronavirus restrictions, Brits have moved to online shopping. This year, shoppers will each spend £287 online on average – 67 per cent of their Christmas shopping. TPA analysis shows that the proposed two per cent online sales tax would add an additional £57 million to the Christmas tax bill.

With rising inflation and the tax burden set to reach a 73 year high, many families are struggling with the cost of living. Despite this pressure on finances, households across the country still intend to enjoy the festive season, especially after missing out on Christmas last year.



Key findings:

  • This Christmas, a UK household will pay an average of £191.75 in tax on their festive spending, enough to buy 23 Tesco Finest 800g Christmas puddings.

  • The total estimated Christmas tax bill will be £5.23 billion. This is equivalent to what the government predicts it will cost to return the aid budget to 0.7 per of GNI in 2024-25.

  • The average household will spend £3,240 in December, 29 per cent more than a typical month. This will be spent mainly on Christmas gifts, clothing, furniture, food, travel and alcohol.

  • A UK household’s average tax bill on festive spending would increase to £193.81 if a proposed 2 per cent online sales tax levy were applied. This would add £57,142,275 to the Christmas tax bill.


John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"Despite families already forking out a fortune this festive season, the taxman has clearly decided ‘tis not the season to be jolly.

"After a cancelled Christmas last year taxpayers deserve a break, but HMRC’s litany of levies leave a big hole in their finances.

"The taxman should stop playing Grinch and leave us a bit more cash in our Christmas stockings.”


TPA spokespeople are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

Danielle Boxall
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)


Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) campaigns to reform taxes and public services, cut waste and speak up for British taxpayers. Find out more at

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. The TaxPayers’ Alliance has found that the sustained tax burden is set to reach a 73 year high by the next election.
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