Prime Minister David Cameron has hinted the rise in VAT from 17.5% to 20% will be permanent but he hopes other measures to tackle the budget deficit such as the 50p tax rate for top earners would eventually be scrapped.
He also told the BBC the coalition was "strong" and would not change course because of the threat of strikes.
However, Labour's Alan Johnson said it would be "extraordinary" to scrap the 50p rate, not the VAT rise which hit the poor.
Last week's VAT rise is the second increase in a year, after Labour chancellor Alistair Darling restored the 17.5% rate in January 2010, having temporarily reduced it to 15% for 13 months to stimulate the economy.
Cameron was asked about whether the rise was a temporary measure, following comments from chancellor George Osborne, who last week said he regarded it as "permanent".
The prime minister told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show the government was trying to deal with the "structural budget deficit".
"That is structural, that's not going to go away because of the growth, so the changes we are making have to be pretty permanent too," he said.
The Prime Minister also said he hoped the new 50p top rate of income tax would not be permanent because it would discourage people from working, living in the UK and "getting on".
But he said the government was "determined" the richest should pay the most "not only in total cash terms but also as a share of their income, and that is what the Budget and spending round achieved".
He said 800,000 people were also being lifted out of income tax altogether because it was raising income tax thresholds.
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