Plucking the goose: Scottish tax revenues rise

First published on 10 January 2020 by Alastair
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Jean Baptise Colbert is credited by some with being the originator (in the 17th century) of the dictum that “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

As reported in The Herald newspaper, the news thatScots paid almost £750 million more in income tax in 2018/19 than they did the year before following changes introduced by SNP ministers” may provoke hissing in some quarters.   It is suggested in the Herald article that part of the reason for this increase is the two new bands introduced by the Scottish government and the alteration of the higher rates of tax. In effect, anyone earning more than £26,000 p.a. pays more tax in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.

Essentially, this is a political matter, boiling down to a simple question; namely, at what level of additional taxation will people be annoyed enough to take some action?  Given that most people in Scotland are not affected by these changes (as they earn less than £26K), the political calculation is that the small increase for those individuals who do earn over the threshold is not enough to cause any problem at the polls or indeed to deter inward investment or immigration to Scotland. Get it wrong though and the hissing will soon rise to become a cacophony of jeers. That’s why we’re glad we’re not politicians but accountants.  However, this does mean that if you want advice on how, legally, to reduce your tax bill, with the minimum of hissing, you should give us a call!

Julie Downie, Senior Accounts Manager


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