SNP leader concerned over losing money

Sturgeon says 50p tax rate remains a possibility

BBC leaders debateNicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, appeared to change her policy on increasing the top rate of tax last night by telling a televised debate she “hadn’t ruled it out for the rest of the parliament”.

Earlier this week she said her party would stick to the 45p rate on incomes above £150,000, despite saying in its last manifesto that it would raise the rate. She said that she feared raising the rate could persuade some top earners to leave Scotland which would lose revenue.

But speaking in a BBC Scotland leaders’ debate last night, the First Minister appeared to change her approach.

“I have said we won’t do it in the first year we have powers. I haven’t ruled it out for the rest of the parliament. And the reason for that is I have got independent civil service analysis saying it might lose us £30m.

“Why is that the case? Because under devolution, unlike under independence, yes we will get the power to set the tax rate, but we don’t get the power to set the rules of avoidance.”

She said that she would ask the First Minister’s council of economic advisers to look on an annual basis to see see if the government an find ways of mitigating that risk.

“I think there should be a 50p top rate of tax, but you don’t set tax rates if it is going to lose you money.”

Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, who is campaigning for a 1p increase across all income bands and a 5p rise in the top rate, said: “I cannot believe.. that Nicola Sturgeon, the great crusader against Tory austerity, won’t introduce the 50p tax rate because rich people might avoid paying it.”

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson repeated her pledge to be the tax-cutting party. She wants to introduce the rise in thresholds announced by the Chancellor in his Budget which Ms Sturgeon has ruled out.

“The people at home have just watched the First Minister of Scotland saying she wants to make Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK,” said Ms Davidson.

“And then they have watched the leader of the opposition say that’s not enough, we need to take more money off working Scots.

“Hanging a sign at the border that says ‘higher taxes here’ encourages neither the growth, the investment or the jobs that we need to properly fund our public services.”



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