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Put a red flag in the diary for Thursday May 30. It’s party time - the date this year when we stop working for the government and start working for ourselves…

Add up all the taxes we pay – income tax, national insurance, VAT, fuel duty, taxes on alcohol and tobacco, council tax and all the rest. Then work out how long it takes us to earn enough to pay for all these taxes. Then you find that in 2013 UK citizens will be obliged to hand over to the government everything they earn between New Year's Day and 30th May.

The Adam Smith Institute [ ASI] has calculated Tax Freedom Day each year - going back to the mid-1960s. It drives home the point that we now spend on average five months of the year working for the government and only seven months of the year working for ourselves.

As the ASI’s Dr Eamonn Butler points out, “things don't seem to have moved on much from the feudal system, where the oppressed vassals were expected to work three days a week for the benefit of their lord.  We have to work about the same for the benefit of the Chancellor “.

In 1996, Tax Freedom Day fell on 2 May - four weeks earlier than this year. 

If you add on government borrowing, the picture is much worse. Taxpayers, or their children, will have to pay back that debt. When you work out the total – what the ASI calls the Cost of Government Day – we don't start enjoying the fruits of our own labour until July 13!

Says Dr. Butler, “When people joke that they spend as much time working for the tax collector as they do working for themselves, they are spot on. They work slightly less than half their time to pay taxes, but slightly more in order to bail out the government's over-spending as well.”

Government debt is now £1.2 trillion, or if you prefer, £1,200,000,000. But what does that mean? How can we describe such a huge total?

Last week the Taxpayers Alliance asked how this sum could be envisaged. Best reply came from M. B. Evans who pointed out that, if they were seconds, our 1.2 trillion pounds of national debt would be equivalent to 38,052 years. Or, in other words, if we paid down the national debt at a rate of £1,000 a second, it would still take over 38 years before we had paid it off.

To give another example, the roughly £350 million that has been paid to the over 2,500 town hall executives making more than £100,000 revealed in the Taxpayers Alliance  new Town Hall Rich List is the same as the annual Council Tax bill for about 300,000 families living in ordinary Band D properties.

The bigger government in all its forms has grown, the more painful it is when the economy hits trouble and spending has to be curbed. And we end up paying more – for less.