Boris Johnson tax plans could hit Scots earning more than £80,000, expert warns
Boris Johnson’s tax plans could mean Scots earning £80,000 a year pay almost £8,000 more than their counterparts in the rest of the UK, an expert said.
The Tory leadership hopeful, who is one of the frontrunners to succeed Theresa May as the UK’s next prime minister, has already unveiled radical income tax proposals.
Tory MP Ross Thomson declared his backing for the former foreign secretary saying putting him in Downing Street could help Ruth Davidson become Scotland’s next first minster.
The Aberdeen South MP claimed suggestions that Mr Johnson is unpopular in Scotland are “nonsense” and “much like the mythical Loch Ness monster”.
But with a pledge to increase the threshold for the 40p rate of income tax for the rest of the UK from £50,000 to £80,000, the former London mayor has been accused of making Scots subsidise a tax cut for higher earners south of the border.
Any increase in the higher rate threshold implemented by Mr Johnson would not apply in Scotland, as the setting of income tax rates and bands is now devolved to Holyrood ministers.
However, the policy would would be part-funded by increasing employee National Insurance contributions, over which Westminster has sole control.
Joanne Walker of the Chartered Institute of Taxation said the proposals would see National Insurance Contributions (NIC) rise by some £3,000 for those earning £80,000 a year.
But unlike workers in the rest of the UK, Scots will not see a reduction in income tax – and Ms Walker said if rates north of the border remained the same, with people earning more than £43,430 paying income tax at 41p, there could be a significant gap in liabilities.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, she said: “At a level of income of £80,000 we’ve worked out that Scottish taxpayers, providing the income tax system stayed exactly the same next year, they would pay £7,844 more than an equivalent UK tax payer in combined income tax and NIC next year.
“Currently at that sort of level of income you’re looking at a difference of about £1,500 in liabilities, so it is a significant jump.”
With Scots potentially having to pay out more in National Insurance, the SNP claimed taxpayers north of the border were facing the “prospect of paying for a tax cut for the likes of Boris Johnson and his cronies”.
MSP Angela Constance blasted: “That would be entirely indefensible – and is only likely to see a further rise in support for independence, which would give Scotland full powers over tax.”
Mr Thomson, however, insisted Mr Johnson could “deliver for the people of Scotland and the whole United Kingdom”.
He declared his support in a blog post, which said: “There is a political narrative that’s being perpetuated in Scotland by the twitterati and the chattering classes that Boris isn’t quite right in Scotland or is just plain unpopular. It’s nonsense. Much like the mythical Loch Ness monster – heard about often but wanting in hard evidence. The same people said the same thing when he ran for Mayor of London ‘a Labour city’.
“The same people told me Aberdeen South never would elect a gay MP and that the Conservative and Unionist Party in Scotland would never back a working-class lesbian. They were wrong. And their lazy opinions, based on nothing but their own biases and those of the Scottish political bubble are wrong now on Boris.”
Mr Thomson insisted that the former foreign secretary “has an edge that I have seen no other politician possess”.
Speaking about Mr Johnson’s recent visit to Aberdeen, the MP said: “The clamour for selfies and people just wanting to meet him showed just how broad Boris’s appeal is.
“The comments that he is loathed, as an interloper in hostile territory, were just false.”