Finance Secretary Derek Mackay hints at tax rises in Scotland

Finance secretary Derek Mackay has hinted tax ­rises could be introduced as he signalled that the Scottish Government could make further changes to economic policy.

Derek Mackay presents the Scottish Budget this month. Picture: PA
Derek Mackay presents the Scottish Budget this month. Picture: PA

Mr Mackay told MSPs that Scottish Government ministers “want to adhere to” the tax proposals set out in the SNP manifesto but they also have to “look at all the different levers we’ve got to try to support some of the less well off”.

SNP policy is to keep income tax rates the same as the Conservatives at Westminster, but not to pass on the increase in the threshold at which people start paying the 40p rate.

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Mr Mackay made clear it is “not the time to give large tax cuts for those on the highest incomes”, and also said the Scottish Government is not planning increases to the basic rate of income tax, currently set at 20p.

The Finance Secretary said: “It’s not our position to simply pass on the pain of austerity to individual taxpayers through a basic rate increase.”

But Green co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP asked him about possible changes to the level at which people start paying income tax, saying increases in the personal allowance gave a greater benefit to wealthier individuals.

Mr Mackay responded: “I know the First Minister and I have said before we will continue to look at our tax position and look at the transfer of powers coming to Scotland to make sure we get the balance right to try to support low-income households.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale restated her calls for the top rate of income tax to be raised from 45p to 50p.