Gordon Lindhurst: Scottish tax a missed opportunity

The Scottish Government has decided to maintain the higher rate threshold of tax. Picture: John Devlin
The Scottish Government has decided to maintain the higher rate threshold of tax. Picture: John Devlin
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The Scottish rate resolution in the Scottish Government’s budget will maintain the higher rate threshold of tax. The Finance Secretary has said he anticipates an extra £29 million. But at the expense of an additional £400 per higher rate taxpayer, will it actually happen?

This year’s budget was meant to be a ground-breaking moment for the Scottish Parliament. Able to set its own income tax rates and thresholds. Able to chart a new course for Scotland.

Gordon Lindhurst is a Conservative MSP for the Lothian region

Gordon Lindhurst is a Conservative MSP for the Lothian region

An opportunity to use the new powers to attract higher rate earners to Scotland, create more revenue and reverse Scotland’s poor growth rate – a mere third of the UK’s. The background is a UK Government budget which raised the higher rate threshold. Which recognised that the existing rate was hitting people it was never intended to: middle-income earners. Train drivers, nurse consultants, teachers.

But the SNP Government, backed by the Greens, has let this historic opportunity slip through its fingers. It has ignored the warnings of economic experts about the consequences of making Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK.

At least in this case, the SNP Government might have listened to the experts, rather than simply repeating the risible and worn-out mantra that Scots “get the best deal for taxpayers in the whole of the UK”. It is hardly a “‘est deal’ when the SNP takes more money from taxpayers than in other parts of the UK to spend on what it thinks is good for the taxpayer. Why not allow us decide, at least sometimes, what to do with our money?

Not even consistency of the SNP government deserves any credit in this case. Typically, even when it has been told otherwise, it ploughs on regardless in the firm belief that it knows best. And if you live in a band E to H house or own your own business, this government’s Green-backed budget amounts to a bombshell.

Of course we must render the SNP Caesar his tax. But some are likely to move, choose a different Caesar, and end up paying this SNP Caesar nothing.

Gordon Lindhurst is a Conservative MSP for the Lothian region