People think almost half of their taxes are not spent by the Government in the public interest, according to a poll.
The survey across 22 countries also found Britain was the most pessimistic about the state of the economy, with 58% of people expecting bad times over the next year.
The BBC World Service global poll, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA, found that worldwide people felt on average that 52% of the money they pay in tax is not used in ways that serve the interests and values of the people of their country.
It found Britons believe 46% of their taxes are not spent wisely but also found a willingness among them (36%) to see tax rises as a way to cut the deficit.
Support for the coalition Government taking steps to cut the deficit is higher in the UK than any other European country, at 60%.
And while 37% of Britons are receptive to financial help for the banks, 40% strongly oppose further bail-outs. Just over half - 51% - back an increase in government regulation and oversight of the economy.
A majority of the British public - 69% - also support lowering prices on basic food items through subsidy, in common with 20 other countries surveyed.
Doug Miller, chairman of GlobeScan, said: "As countries struggle to achieve economic recovery, citizens want more active government, but also more effective government intervention in the economy to meet the needs of citizens, including stabilising food prices."
GlobeScan/PIPA interviewed 22,783 people in 22 countries face-to-face or by telephone between June 24 and September 5.