By Brian Smith, Scottish TUSC candidate Glasgow Cathcart
Scottish TUSC believes that the Scottish Parliament should have the power to tax the profits and unearned wealth of rich corporations and individuals. As it stands the Parliament’s primary tax powers are over income tax and local taxes such as the council tax and business rates.
Scottish TUSC is campaigning in this election for a 90% income tax rate on earnings over £150,000, called the additional rate. The current rate for this level of pay is 45p in the pound; we want to make this 90p in the pound. Around 17,000 people in Scotland earn more than £150,000 per year, less than 1% of the population. We estimate that this income tax proposal would bring in at least £1Billion more for council, health, education and other vital public services.
Scottish TUSC is also campaigning to scrap the unfair council tax and replace it with a new graduated wealth tax based on ability to pay and that will exempt those on low incomes.
None of the other parties standing on 5 May have such a clear policy on taxing the rich to secure more funding for our public services.
So what are the other Scottish parties saying on taxation?
The Scottish Tories support the UK Tory Government tax cuts for the rich – no surprise there. UKIP have the same position, plus a call to cut all taxes even more. So no surprise there either.
The SNP’s only income tax policy is to reject George Osbourne’s proposed tax cut for those earning over £43,000. This will mean that those earning over £43,000 will see no change in their tax bills, i.e. they will pay no more. The SNP oppose any increase for those earning over £150,000 as “daft and reckless” despite the vast majority of SNP voters in opinion polls supporting an increase in the additional rate from 45p.
The SNP also wish to tinker with the council tax, without undertaking any revaluation of properties, to make the “unfair” council tax, as the First Minister used to describe it, a wee bit less unfair. Hardly a radical set of tax policies for the party who wanted to end austerity in Scotland last year. It would be accurate to describe the SNP’s taxation plans for the election as Tory-Lite.
The Greens want to raise income tax for those earning over £27,000 by twenty-five pounds to several hundred pounds per year, up the higher rate paid at over £43,000 to 43% (up 3%) and raise the additional rate applied to incomes over £150,000 to 60% (up 15%). The Greens also propose a new residential property tax to replace the council tax based a revaluation of properties, an essential exercise if you want a property tax as the current values date from 1991. The problem is that it looks a bit like the council tax.
The Labour Party wants to increase by 1% both the basic rate and higher rate of income tax, and the additional rate by 5% (up to 50%). They are proposing a new property based local tax with two bands (below and above £180,000 valuation). Like the Greens idea, it looks a bit like the council tax but Labour say that 80% of households will see no change or pay less. Overall, Labour claim that their tax policies can hold-off any further cuts in public services by plugging the cuts from the Tories at Westminster. The LibDems also want to raise income tax by 1%.
Left-wing parties seeking your 2nd Vote on the regional list like RISE and Solidarity both want to replace the council tax with a service tax based on ability to pay, which is welcome. Both want to “tax the rich” with policies to raise the higher rate and additional rate.
Labour, the LibDems and the Greens all want to raise income tax for the majority of workers. The problem with raising income tax on the 99% is that the vast majority are struggling at the moment and cannot afford to pay more. It was the super-rich elite who created this capitalist mess, so why should we all pay more? Scottish TUSC believes that those earning over £150,000 are the ones who should pay more income tax in Scotland. However, overall it’s the profits, unearned wealth and income from the tax havens of the super-rich elite that we need to target – not nurses, construction workers, transport workers and council workers.
We need taxation policies that take wealth from the millionaires. That wealth must be used to provide collective, free public services and life opportunities for all. But we know the rich and big business will seek to evade and avoid tax, as the Panama Papers graphically show. We therefore also need democratic public ownership of the banks, big business and all the major sectors of the economy. This would allow society to be organised on a socialist basis, where human need rather than private profit would take priority.