Patrick Harvie backs SNP on indyref2 and calls for budget tax compromise
FURTHER reform of devolved taxation will be the Scottish Green’s red line in 2016 budget talks.
Co-convener Patrick Harvie told the opening day of its party conference that he would expect “significant moves” by the government on tax issues before the six Green MSPs would vote in favour of its budget.
The challenge highlights the gap between SNP and Green tax policies, which were a significant split on council and income tax debates during the 2016 election.
The SNP were re-elected to government – but as a minority government, meaning they will require another party to support or abstain to pass policies.
Harvie told the Perth conference: “People like Derek Mackay [SNP finance minister] and frankly people like me can afford to pay more tax than we do at the moment. We must, if we’re serious about protecting public services and investing in the future.
“So the SNP must make significant moves from their manifesto position in the direction of progressive tax if they expect to see Green support for their budget plans in the coming parliament.
“There is a choice ahead for them. Either they support those who believe in the progressive politics they have long argued for yet failed to deliver. Or lean to the right of the chamber and work with the Conservatives. Frankly, that should be an easy decision for them to make, and I hope they take the opportunity to work with us.”
Under Green plans, anyone earning under £26,500 would see a income tax reduction, as a new 18 per cent tax rate would replace the current 20 per cent rate for all income under £19,000.
The biggest financial impact would be the targeting of high earners. Income between £43,000 and £150,000 would be taxed at 43 per cent, up from the current 40p rate.
A 60 per cent top rate of tax would replace the 45 per cent rate implemented by the current Tory government.
The SNP, in contrast, decided not to pass on the Tory income tax cuts, as the parliament takes full control of income tax bands.
The SNP warned that higher income tax rates in Scotland could lead to tax flight south of the border, although the party said the position remains under review.
While the Greens have advocated a revaluation of council tax and a change towards a more progressive rate, the SNP have warned that a revaluation would lead to some on lower incomes paying higher tax bills.
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