The tax choices facing Scottish voters

27 April 2016

As we proceed to the final furlong of the Scottish election race, we have finally seen all the manifestos and heard what each of the runners will propose as far as direct taxes are concerned. If you have found this confusing that is not a surprise given the divergence in the policies but here is your guide should you need it before picking your favoured choice.

The SNP would like to introduce a 50 per cent tax rate but feel that those who are asked to pay will migrate to a different residence to avoid the 5p increase. At the moment there are no real proposals to change anything at all from 6 April 2017.

Labour want to introduce a 1p increase on all tax rates now and to have a 50 per cent tax rate from 6 April 2017.

The Conservatives want to introduce a 30 per cent tax rate and so does UKIP. The LibDems propose a 1p increase on all rates, similar to Labour, but also want to extend the 0 per cent rate at which a taxpayer begins paying tax.

The Greens go for everything. A number of lower rates from 18 per cent to 43 per cent with a higher rate of 60 per cent.

All of the parties will increase personal allowances.

So there you have it. But with almost 50 per cent of the tax raised in Scotland being paid by those earning less than £50,000 a year and given that the UK only has three separate tax rates compared with the rest of the OECD members who generally have four or five tax rates, would a fairer system and an economic reality be to introduce lower rates of tax as well as a higher rate? Only two per cent of the Scottish taxpayers pay the highest rate of tax but that accounts for 25 per cent of the tax raised. To meet any fiscal budget, should tax be something we all pay based on our ability to do so and not just targeted at the few?

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