Harvie: SNP not radical enough on tax

The SNP has failed to provide a 'radical' approach to using Scotland's new tax-raising powers to fight austerity, Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has said.
Picture: TSPLPicture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

The Greens have called for a 60 pence top rate of tax for high earners and has dismissed Nicola Sturgeon’s claims that it could see high earners leave or change tax arrangements which could see the Scottish Government lose out to the tune of millions of pounds in taxes.

The Greens are riding high in the polls and could return MSPs in all eight of Scotland’s regions and possibly reach double figures.

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“It’s surprised a lot of people that they’ve not put forward a radical approach to progressive taxation,” Mr Harvie told the BBC’s Politics show today.

“They’re relying on this idea about tax competition - the idea that you simply have to offer wealthy people or higher income people the lowest tax environment otherwise they’ll disappear.

“I just don’t buy the argument that the majority of people - even in the additional tax band are the kind of selfish individuals who would uproot their families and disappear - presumably not taking their current job with them and going to another job elsewhere, simply because they don’t want to pay more tax on the highest element of their income.

“Let’s remember we’re talking about what they earn over and above £150,000. These are people who are very wealthy, very high incomes. I think it’s quite reasonable that they’re asked to pay a bit more.”

The SNP say that high earners could simply change their arrangements by paying their tax on a “capital gains” basis or through share dividends which is not under Holyrood’s control.

But Mr Harvie believes this would be a “minority” and said more should be done to “stigmatise” this by ensuring high earners in the public sector don’t’ indulge in these kind of activities.

“The Scottish Government has business support services - grants and loans and support services it provides from tax payers money - those could be contingent as well on employers not participating on those kind of immoral schemes.

The Greens plans would “pivot” on the average UK salary of £26,500 which means anyone below this would pay less - while anyone earning more would face higher taxes.

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The Greens leader warned major cuts are coming to Scotland’s public services in the years ahead, but Holyrood’s new tax powers will allow the Scottish Government to “reverse these cuts.” The Greens plans would raise an extra £330 million.

It comes as one poll last week put the pro-independence Greens on 10% in the regional list vote for Holyrood which would translate to a record 11 seats.

“”That would be a fantastic step,” Mr Harvie said.

“There are eight regions, I certainly think we can get more than one in some regions. If we’re into that area, if we’re into that ballpark, we’re certainly approaching double figures and for the first time we would have an MSP representing every voter in Scotland.”