Friday, 5 September 2008

Reprinted from Scots and Independent

hursday, September 04, 2008
The Scotsman And LIT
As promised, here's the rebuttal to the Scotsman's continued vendetta against Local Income Tax. Anyone would think their editor might be in danger of paying a bit more or something the way they carry on...

1. Local income tax (LIT) will leave a £750 million financial black hole in Scotland. Others have suggested it could be as high as £1.3 billion.


False. This figure relies on current Council Tax Benefit (roughly £400m) being removed from the Scottish block. The rest will be made up from central (Scottish) government.

2. LIT will make Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK and this might encourage businesses to leave.


It’ll do no such thing, because council tax is being removed. Replacing one tax with another, which even its supporters admit will collect a lower amount, can not possibly represent an increase in the overall tax burden.

Perhaps we could lock Yvette Cooper and the IoD in a room together so they can make up their minds as to whether LIT would be a tax increase or a decrease. Just a thought...

3. There will be serious service cuts at council level unless local income tax is set at 4.5p or higher.


See point 1.

4. LIT may be illegal under the provisions of the Scotland Act because it is unclear whether a local tax can be replaced by a national tax.


Gotta love the use of the word ‘may’ here. The only basis for saying that LIT would be illegal is if someone were to produce a statutory definition of the word ‘local’ in the Scotland Act. Since no such definition exists and given local taxation is very clearly a devolved matter, let’s move on.

5. Replacing an unfair tax with an unworkable tax will cause more misery than we can know.


This is a personal assertion and nothing more. As for unworkable, on a sliding scale of difficulty running from 'easy-peasy' to 'Land Value Tax', it's sitting quite comfortably towards the easier end of the scale.

6. There will be a 'damaging' impact on service personnel, who would have to pay the new tax in full, but currently have their council tax reduced. This could lower morale and cause yet more recruitment problems.


Service personnel already have deductions made to their salaries to pay for their council tax, so there's no reason why dispensation couldn't also be given under LIT.

It’s possible that higher ranks may end up paying more. However, I’ll bet the marginal rate of tax applicable to a Brigadier is unlikely to be a major factor in keeping people out of army recruitment centres.

7. There will be serious anomalies over people living in England but working in Scotland. There are also concerns that people may register as living in England to avoid paying.


Presumably these cross border commuters, even though they be they ever so few in number, pay council tax somewhere at present. If your home is in England, you'll continue to pay CT. If you have a home in Scotland and England, then there's already well established residency rules for liability for the 3p tax varying powers which could come into play.

8. Hard-pressed students, who are currently exempt from the council tax, would have to pay.


This is an argument to exempt students from Income Tax full stop. In any case, if you're earning above the tax threshold, which many students will not be, then there's no reason why you shouldn't be contributing on that portion of your earnings above the earnings threshold.

9. Scottish firms would be placed at a competitive disadvantage to companies in other parts of the UK because LIT additions to wage packets would be passed on to customers.


Rubbish. Income tax would be no more passed on to consumers via staff wage claims than is council tax at present. If anything, given the burden it takes off the poorer paid, it might ease pressure on employer payroll costs.

10. LIT will take £70 million from vital city council services which will lead to severe cuts.


See point 1. If the argument is that Glasgow has an insufficient tax base, it seems to be ignoring the likely level of central government grant support which would continue to come to local authorities.

11. The PAYE system does not easily deal with taxpayers who receive income from different sources, including pensioners receiving pensions from different employers or those who have various part-time jobs – this will particularly affect those on low incomes who will be exposed to incorrect PAYE codes, and these practical issues should not be underestimated.


There'll be no arguments from me on this one. This is a serious concern, and while not insurmountable, it's something which needs to be thought through.

12. Regardless of the rate of tax chosen, there will be uncertainty as to the yield that can be obtained, as revenues derived from income taxes can be more volatile.


This is true, although it's possible to overstate the effects given the relatively low proportion of the overall local government settlement will come from LIT.

13. LIT would be technically complex and challenging to implement because of the complexities of tax law, and trying to sort out what would happen to the £400 million council tax benefit.


Indeed. It's still not an argument for not going ahead and in fairness to the institute, I don't think they intended for their measured comments to be given the Chris Hoy treatment by the Scotsman.

14. Investors and businesses who are thinking of coming to Scotland will be scared away because of the extra income tax.


Oh, behave yourselves. See point 2.

15. LIT probably breaks European law by removing control of raising local finances from councils. It could break Article 9 of the European charter of local self-government, which guarantees the right of councils to raise a large part of their own finances.


That word 'probably' again. LIT will be a tax levied specifically to pay for local services. Even describing this one as 'recondite' doesn't do it justice.

16. Wealthy people who have unearned income from sources like share dividends can avoid LIT whilst poorer people would have to pay.


They can avoid it on their unearned income, but not their earned income. In any case, over a million Scots earn less than £160 [SOURCE: HMRC] from their savings and investments. 3% of £160 is £5 – is the STUC really suggesting that it's worth rifling through the bank accounts, ISAs and BT shares of over a million Scots, just to extract an additional £5 or less from them in LIT?

17. The UK tax system does not give across-the-board allowances for disability and, in the absence of such allowances, the burden of LIT will be higher on disabled people than on the general body of taxpayers.


This may be true, but that's a broader argument for tax reform rather than one which affects LIT particularly.

18. LIT will be more intrusive into people's lives because it would require far greater knowledge of their personal circumstances than a property tax would.


If you class making a declaration of income to the collecting authorities as an intrusion, then yes, it probably is.

19. At present, a cohort of carers are currently "disregarded" (treated as not living in the property) when calculating council tax. Households with multiple taxpayers will end up paying more and this has the potential to include more carers who are not currently liable for council tax.


Possibly, but carers on low earnings will find themselves paying very little, or indeed nothing at all. If you are in receipt of the carers allowance, you need to be spending more than 35 hours a week looking after someone, so your opportunities for earning anything to put you above the earnings threshold are unlikely to be very great.

20. The £281 million of savings that need to be made to create a 3p local income tax could be used instead to reduce the burden of the council tax.


It could, but that still wouldn't make it fair. Nor is a call to bung more cash at adding ever more exemptions to the CT or simply to further reduce it much of an an argument against LIT.

21. LIT would bring unwelcome extra bureaucracy and cost to businesses because of all the extra paperwork created in sorting out employees' income tax. Lib Dem proposals for different rates for different areas would make it even worse.


I have some sympathy with this view. However, I think the impact can be overstated. For larger companies, suitable payroll software should make light work of the administration required, just as it does with pension contributions.

22. Families will be worse off, or there will be cuts in public services, because the 3p rate will not be enough to fund current service levels.


Nonsense which could have come straight from a Labour Party press release. See points 1 & 2.

23. Water and sewerage charges are collected by local authorities on behalf of Scottish Water – the consultation did not present any proposals on how such charges will be set and collected under LIT.


True, but again, not an argument against LIT per se.

24. LIT would be bad for the environment because it will take away the flexibility needed to bring in specific charges for rubbish collection.


Let me get this straight... LIT would be bad for the environment because it might not let us do something that we're already not doing? Much silliness. Andrew Neil and the Barclay Brothers have a lot to answer for the tripe this lot have churned out– at least they're merging with a more sensible crowd now over at Reform Scotland.

25. The SNP's centralising LIT proposal reduces the lack of control [sic] that councils have over local finances.


'Reduces the lack of control?' A good thing, surely?

You know, I have some sympathy with the argument I suspect they actually made. I just see merit in having the rate set nationally, at least until things settle down. Again, though, hardly a clinching argument.

So, some concerns which are substantial, nothing which is insurmountable, and some hysterics from a few of the usual suspects whom you'd think really ought to know better. And despite the headline, there's not a single argument against LIT to be found which even approaches being remotely conclusive.

Right, I'm away for my tea now. However, do please read Jeff's version of the same exercise - it's also only fair to point out that he did beat me to the punch with this one by several hours!
Posted by Richard Thomson at 6:54 PM

Cato said...

Don't think much of your legal analysis on point 4.

The courts won't refuse to interpret "local" simply becuase there's no statutory definition of it. The word will instead most likely be defined according to its normal usage-and in no way, in normal usage, can a nationally set and collected tax be defined as "local", regardless of what it's spent on.

Besides-do you want to peril local services and economic stability on something of which, judging by your "not remotely conclusive comment", you are hardly convinced yourself?
9/04/2008 11:08 PM
Scottish Unionist said...


Your first point tacitly acknowledges that there would have to be be an additional diversion to councils from the Scottish block of a not inconsiderable sum (probably in excess of £350m per annum) to make up for the revenue shortfall due to the implementation of a fixed 3% LIT.

Yet in your third point you use that fact to deny the possibility of service cuts! Don't you realise that such money will no longer be available to the SG? How then could spending cuts be avoided?!

Further to point 4, what do you make of the fact that the SNP's version of LIT, with its nationally set rate, appears to foul of the European Charter of Local Self-Government?

Article 9 of that charter mandates: “Part at least of the financial resources of local authorities shall derive from local taxes and charges of which, within the limits of statute, they have the power to determine the rate.”
9/05/2008 5:57 AM


Stonemason said...

It was calculated by the Liberal Democrat's several years ago that to replace Council tax would require a LIT of approximately 6 pence in the pound across the United Kingdom.

Salmon and his colleges have set the LIT at 3 pence in the pound, what is the motive setting it so low, it must be to create a crisis, the only answer to the crisis is to cut the Scots free, December the 31st this year. It's what Salmon wants, make them the offer, give them a simple referendum, "in" or "out" of the Union, have the referendum on the last day of October.

No bluffs, if they want it, cut them free.

kerdasi amaq said...

Gordon Brown(honorary Englishman) said yesterday, England has Scotland by the short and curlies and that they'll never let go. So there. That is the only real message that can be extracted from his speech yesterday.

kerdasi amaq said...

In fifty years time, however, there won't be an England! Wales and Scotland must take to the lifeboats(independence) now!

Stonemason said...

kerdasi amaq your ... "In fifty years time, however, there won't be an England! Wales and Scotland must take to the lifeboats (independence) now!"

What pray do you expect to happen?

kerdasi amaq said...

I expect the English people to be obliterated as Nation. Read Luke O'Farrell to find out how. Learn the Qu'ran.

The contraceptive pill, the 1967 Abortion Act and uncontrolled immigration will destroy England.

If the Welsh and Scots are not careful, England will drag them down the plughole after them!

Anonymous said...

I expect the English people to be obliterated as Nation.

I suppose this is on the same lines as "wiping Israel off the map" as suggested by the Qu'ran reading Muslim Mr. Ahmedinajad.

Nice people, eh?

kerdasi amaq said...

Did you read what I wrote? It's already happening. Bye Bye England.

Though the devil that replaces it will be much worse.

Stonemason said...

kerdasi amaq, you really are a nasty piece of work.

kerdasi amaq said...

Crude insults don't work on me!

"I expect the English people to be obliterated as Nation."

Best of all: it's self-inflicted!

Bye Bye England!

joshuapundit said...

Sunday, September 14, 2008
Bye Bye,Britain
It's time we said good bye to Britain.They're officially on the road to become part of the new Caliphate, and to leave both the West and their special relationship with America behind.

According to The Sunday Times (UK) Britain has officially granted jurisdiction in Muslim civil cases to sharia courts:

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims. It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.

One of the glories of British civilization was the rule of English common law and the fact that it was applied equally to all British subjects, at least most of the time. No more, Bubba. Now,Brits who happen to be Muslim - particularly uppity women - will be subjected to the tender mercies of a code originated by a bunch of 7th century it or not.

There are already Muslim 'no go ' areas in many British cities, and those enclaves are now to be governed by sharia rule. Look for this trend towards Islamist autonomy to continue in Britain,until they finally take over the entire country...or provoke a civil war trying.

I have to admit, I'm puzzled by this. It's one thing to be conquered forcibly, but it's quite another to cheerfully lay down for it and commit cultural suicide.

I'll plead guilty to having some ambivalent feelings towards Britain. Call it a tribal thing based on history, kind of like the Irish. But I still remember that this was the country who built an empire that the sun never set on, who imported western civilization to half the world, who stood up to Hitler alone and produced Drake,Wellington, Churchill and Thatcher.

Whatever happened to that Great Britain?

Nowadays,it seems like what's left is a bunch of whinging cowards who've dismantled their fleets, can't be relied on as an ally when things get tough and apparently can't wait to be shut of that 'special relationship' with the US.

It's not even like I've written them off so much as they've written themselves of, whimpering as they go.

So long, cousins. I can see the end from here and unless things change radically,it ain't pretty.

(hat tip to Ann at Boker Tov Boulder