This Scottish election campaign’s really taxing me and it is boring me stupid!

Ok, let’s get down and dirty with tax. Since tax is all the media and the parties really appear to get off on. God I’m so bored with Jack and Nicol and Alex parading their alternative tax policies. Do they think anyone knows whether they’ll be better off with the snake of the council tax or the ladder of a local income tax – they can’t even agree it’s that way round! Oh I dare say that, as in the budget specials printed the day after a Westminster budget, little case studies can show that Mr & Mrs X and their wains will get this or that. But surely the debate should really about the (fiscal) direction of the country as a whole, (as opposed to a bribery bidding war) or at least don’t you think it should be? At the moment this is not even horse trading, which has a slightly romantic ring about it, this is just grown men talking taxation – how boring is that.

Do you really think the electorate want to vote on taxation policies which only Arthur Midwinter professes to understand? Taxation may fire up the accountants and the tax consultants, but it’s pissing me off. I thought we might get to talk about the future of Scotland as a country, a people, an adventure. If you’ve got any ambition in this life, I recommend you don’t give up first because you can’t figure out how to fund it.

But if you do want to talk tax, well, I’ve already shown in previous posts that Labour’s obsession with their £5,000 per family is GARBAGE and economically illiterate (see Growling at Gers below). Instead, let’s take the BBC’s Glenn Campbell argument that the Inland Revenue won’t collect the SNP’s 3p because it’s Scottish and quickly we get back to the fact that Fiscal and Economic policy are reserved to Westminster. The Devolution settlement allowed a 3p variation in Income Tax but it seems they may have forgotten to get agreement for the Inland Revenue to collect it on behalf of the Parliament. Pitiable but not my point.

My point is that we’re back talking like Income Tax and Council Tax are the only tricks in town. It’s like a re-run of Thatcher’s obsession with income tax rates or Tony thinking that slapping a penny on regressive national insurance was somehow acceptable, or Gordon cutting 2p but abolishing the 10p rate. Do politicians think we’re thick. Actually, yes. Which is why reducing an election campaign to a question of competing tax methodologies is fucking idiotic and serves no one.

If they want to get down and dirty on tax then read this table – my favourite GERS Appendix B: Go on, but try not to fall asleep.

UK Scotland
£ million
£ million
as a share of total revenue as a share of UK revenue
Income tax (after tax credits) 122,920 8,914 24.5% 7.3%
Corporation tax (excl North Sea) 29,730 2,422 6.6% 8.1%
VAT 73,026 5,949 16.3% 8.1%
Social security contributions 78,098 6,461 17.7% 8.3%
Non-domestic rates 18,975 1,813 5.0% 9.6%
Council Tax 19,966 1,615 4.4% 8.1%
Capital gains tax 2,278 186 0.5% 8.2%
Inheritance tax 2,924 171 0.5% 5.9%
Stamp duties 8,966 720 2.0% 8.0%
Fuel duties 23,313 1,313 3.6% 5.6%
Tobacco duties 8,100 984 2.7% 12.1%
Alcohol duties 7,876 703 1.9% 8.9%
Betting and gaming duties 1,421 122 0.3% 8.6%
Customs duties and agricultural levies 2,195 179 0.5% 8.2%
Air passenger duty 864 73 0.2% 8.5%
Insurance premium tax 2,359 200 0.5% 8.5%
Climate change levy 764 75 0.2% 9.8%
Aggregates levy 334 45 0.1% 13.6%
Landfill tax 672 57 0.2% 8.5%
Vehicle excise duties 4,737 348 1.0% 7.3%
Other taxes and royalties 11,741 978 2.7% 8.3%
Interest and dividends 5,639 460 1.3% 8.2%
Gross trading surplus, rents & misc transfers 22,668 2,826 7.8% 12.5%
Other revenue 1 -2,135 -177 -0.5% 8.2%
Total 447,431 36,439 100.0% 8.1%

That’s right, there’s 24 different taxes liste. TWENTY FOUR. And how many does the Scottish Parliament control – council tax and 3p on income tax. Go on have a look at just how little that is.

It get worse. I’ve previously protested at the sloppy nature of the GERS methodology, in spite of all of Labour’s experts who I’m just going to have to assume are being misquoted. Try this for VAT:

“VAT Scotland’s share of UKVAT revenue was estimated on the basis of Scotland’s share of household expenditure on those goods and services subject to VAT, as estimated from the Expenditure & Food Survey ( EFS). The results should be treated with caution since they are based only on household expenditure estimates and not the share relating to the amount of VAT received from businesses registered with Scottish VAT offices or received from businesses trading within Scotland.”

That is disgraceful. Worse when you realise that the EFS might involve a sample of less than 667 Scots!!

So, if you’ve got this far, then perhaps you should consider a career in accountancy – I hear it can be lucrative. But for God’s sake let’s not bog the future of Scotland down in bickering over alternative models of how to pay the bills.



McGellie x


4 Responses to This Scottish election campaign’s really taxing me and it is boring me stupid!

  1. niceblog says:

    nice blog

  2. laluttefinale says:

    Nice blog!

  3. helmac says:

    Unfortunately how to pay the bills cannot be dismissed if you want the electorate to participate in an election. Each and everyone of us needs to know who will be financing the next Scottish Executive. As an individual, am I going to pay substantially more than at present, can I afford the additional tax/council tax, what effect will that have on my family etc? We are all bored with the constant coverage of income tax versus council tax but to suggest that this is an insignificant sum, tell that to the families who have to pay from an already very tight budget.

  4. mcgellie says:

    Hi Helmac. I rather think you are missing the point. Every predicted number is soft. Every party is making up their outcomes to suit themselves. THEREFORE, you can listen to as many politicians as you like ahead of the election and you will never know what the financial outcome to you will be.

    Love McGellie x

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