Monday, 6 October 2014

A Taxing Problem

I see there has been some harrumphing in the MSM regarding Alex Salmond's announcement that the Scottish Parliament will be bringing in legislation to prevent the use of the updated Electoral Register to pursue unpaid Poll Tax debts.  Most of them seem to be conflating arrears of Poll Tax with arrears of Council Tax, and are bandying around a figure of £425 million owed.  This seems to be a deliberate ploy to make Mr Salmond look as if he is condoning local tax defaulters of all stripes, which is another handy stick to beat him with.  They are cheerfully ignoring the fact that it is, in fact, illegal to pursue historic Poll Tax debts if no previous attempt has been made to collect it, as the debt is more than 20 years old.  Mr Salmond explained this in exacting detail to Councillor Jim Gifford of Aberdeenshire Council. They are also not mentioning the fact that Poll Tax debts in England and Wales were written off some years ago.  Still, what's sauce for the goose is definitely not allowed for the gander.

Elsewhere, the LibDems are having their party conference, and have been discussing the devolution of tax-raising powers to the Scottish Parliament.  They are in favour of devolving income tax in its entirety, along with Housing Benefit, agreeing with the Tories and much to the dismay of the Labour Party.  The Labour party oppose it, as they think it would undermine any future Labour government's authority at Westminster.   They're right to be worried, but not for the reason they think.  They still seem to be taking for granted that the Scottish Electorate will return a large majority of Labour MPs to Westminster, same as it ever has.  I think they may well be in for a shock.  Not only have many Labour voters been disgusted by their party supporting the Tories during the referendum campaign, they will now be made to look grasping and greedy in their miserly approach to new powers to be devolved.  This really isn't going to play well in Scotland.

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