Election 2017

Reality Check: Do Scots pay more tax than the rest of the UK?

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The claim: The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly claimed that under SNP policies, Scotland has become "the highest taxed part of the UK".

Reality Check verdict: Changes to thresholds mean 370,000 Scots pay more income tax than those earning the same amount south of the border. However, council tax is generally lower in Scotland, and the SNP say the country has a more generous benefits system.

From the start of April, the UK government raised the threshold for those paying the 40p rate of income tax to £45,000, and aims to up it to £50,000 by 2020/21.

But Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, using new tax powers devolved to Holyrood, froze that threshold at £43,000.

As a result, in the current year more than 370,000 Scots who are in this bracket will pay more tax than those earning the same amount south of the border - that's one in seven taxpayers.

For those earning £45,000, the difference is about £400.

The Scottish government is also exploring whether a 50p top rate of tax could be introduced in future years. The SNP's 2017 manifesto backs this UK-wide, but they have previously rejected using the rate in Scotland alone unless power over tax avoidance is devolved to Holyrood.

The rates of other major taxes, such as VAT and National Insurance, are set by the UK government and are the same north and south of the border.

What about council tax?

While some pay more income tax, after a succession of freezes under agreements between the Scottish government and local councils, most people in Scotland pay less council tax than those in England.

The average Band D property in Scotland pays £1,162 in council tax, while the average Band D property in England pays £1,591.

The multiplier which calculates the higher bands, from E to H was recently changed in Scotland, meaning people in these properties saw their bills rise regardless of what their local councils decided to do in their budgets.

However, the average bill for each of the eight bands is higher in England than it is in Scotland, with the average of bands A-H at £1,551.33 in Scotland and £1,922.46 in England.

And benefits?

The SNP also say Scotland has a more generous benefits system including free prescriptions and free personal care for the elderly, as well as free tuition for Scottish and EU students.

However, their opponents argue that Scotland has been relatively generously funded compared to other parts of the UK - although with its new tax powers Holyrood is now responsible for raising much more of its own money.


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