I MARKED the start of the new tax year on Friday by logging on to the HMRC website to confirm my Scottish tax code. Whether Scotland takes a gradualist approach to reclaiming her independence, or moves swiftly in a referendum early next year, this is another important step.

Income taxes will no longer be the same on both sides of the Tweed. Scotland – at least in this respect – is now just a little more progressive than England. This is devolution working, and the Scottish Government getting on with the day job.

The day brightened further on reading stories that London Tories are now so desperate for a saviour that they turned to Ruth Davidson for advice on election strategy. Presumably they wanted to know how to turn a nasty party into something that a relatively moderate electorate would not treat with undisguised contempt.

Certainly, Ms Davidson is good at photo-opportunities. She’s spent seven years racing around the country, popping up in front of cameras, full of slogans. I’ve heard her speak a few times, and have always been impressed by how little content there is in her speeches. In her campaigning, she has stretched Scottish conservatism to the singularity: “No to a divisive second referendum!” while endlessly promoting herself.

And then I read Ms Davidson’s sour response to the changes in the tax system. An intelligent conservative would have used economic arguments that it’s the tax paid on the last pound of income which affects decisions about how hard to work, and gone on to claim that the Scottish Government, by making income tax more progressive, is blunting the incentives for the more productive half of the Scottish population. The tax system should encourage more productive people to work harder. Then the £24,000 income level would be the correct one to talk about.

But there is a much larger problem with differential income tax systems in England and Scotland, and the Scottish Conservatives will be very unlikely to talk about it because it shows up the fragility of the current system. You mentioned the paper by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which discusses it, but without drilling down into the critical detail (Tories ‘caught out’ over claim on income tax, The National, Apr 7).

Many higher earners will be able to claim both Scottish and English domicile for income tax. Like certain MPs in the expenses scandal, they might choose to “flip” residence to avoid the higher taxes. Forecasters are reckoning that this will absorb between 20 to 25 per cent of the possible increase in revenues from the changes to taxation.

And because every flipper stops paying income tax in Scotland, it would take very small number of high earners avoiding tax in this way to wipe out revenue gains from the higher taxes completely. Cue more Unionist fury as Westminster has to concede further devolution to ensure that there is a genuinely Scottish tax system.
Robbie Mochrie

YOUR item on the Scottish Conservatives being caught out again regarding the new tax rates introduced in Scotland from April 6 was right on the money, if you pardon the pun. It illustrates perfectly just what this party of liars is all about. They have an pathological hatred of all things SNP, and in particular, all things SNP/Scottish Government. Colonel Davidson, and her sidekick, Corporal Fraser make it their mission in life to rubbish, demean and belittle everything the SNP try to achieve. Whether it be the tax rates, the NHS in Scotland, education or a myriad other progressive and imaginative ideas brought to Holyrood, they will shout and scream “SNP BAAAD !” at every turn.

The latest call out regarding tax rates and how the Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent body, gave it the thumbs up as a fair and distributive tax system.

Note the word “fair’. That is a word alien to Davidson and her ilk, as it suggests equality, and even handedness, an ethos not familiar to the Tories. What is really irking Davidson is that her supporters, and in particular, the high-end earners will have to fork out approx £2000 per annum. Now to my mind someone earning in excess of 150k should be able to give this as it has been earmarked for improving services such as the NHS, which everyone no matter their wealth is entitled to.

When you break it down, it means something like £38 per week worse off, probably less than the price of a bottle of Bollinger. With regard to her squawking about lower earners being targeted, the median earner would be due to pay approximately £24 per year, or roughly 46 pence a week. Now if that means better health care and other public services, then that to me is a good deal!

Not according to the Scottish Conservatives, they would rather we continue being hostages to their failed and discredited austerity regime, which is continuing to squeeze the life out of the economy and our society.

They would rather we continued to be subjugated to the Westminster establishment and all the inequality to Scotland that goes with that. It is also a last ditch effort from a party that has been ruthlessly exposed since the last election as a party of charlatans and naysayers whose sole objective is to keep their precious Union hanging together at all costs.

They have no interest in the well-being of the citizens of our country, unless they are one of the elite, and a party donor.

How much longer will we have to put up with their nasty, divisive position? The answer is unfortunately until the next general election when they can once again be erased from the political map of Scotland, and designated to the dustbin of history. I sincerely hope that the electorate in our country will not be fooled again with their Unionist claptrap.
Ade Hegney