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29 March 2016, 14:28
The Scottish Greens have attacked the SNP's "lack of ambition'' on taxation as they set out plans to introduce a new 60p top rate of income tax.
Co-convener and Glasgow candidate Patrick Harvie said he was "baffled'' by the Nationalists' "failure'' to use the new powers over income tax rates and bands coming to the Scottish Parliament from April 2017.
Under his party's proposals the current 20% basic rate of income tax would be split, with the first £7,500 of income above the 2017-18 personal allowance of #11,500 taxed at 18%. Income earned above #19,000 would then be taxed at 22%.
The higher rate would be increased from 40% to 43% for income above #43,000, while the new 60% rate would apply for income over £150,000.
The party would also abolish the council tax system, replacing it with a residential property tax based on the value of a home, with a £10,000 tax-free allowance and relief for low-income households.
Setting out the plans at North Merchiston community centre in Edinburgh, Mr Harvie said the ``progressive'' proposals would leave those earning less than £26,500 a year better off and raise an additional £331 million a year compared with the SNP's proposals.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said that if her party wins May's Holyrood election there will be no increase next year in either the higher 40p rate or the additional rate of 45p, but plans to increase the threshold at which workers start paying the 40p rate from #43,000 to £45,000 in 2017-18 will not be implemented in Scotland.
Mr Harvie said: "Unless Scotland has the boldness and the courage of its convictions to use the abilities that the Scottish Parliament is going to have in the next session to have a fairer, more progressive approach to taxation, unless we do that many more communities are going to find that the public services they rely on will continue to be under threat.
"I think many people have been startled by the lack of ambition that seems to be coming from the SNP on this.''
Mr Harvie said the top rate of income tax was "an important marker of social justice in our society''.
He added: "It is about saying that if somebody does earn astronomical incomes over and above £150,000 a year, it is reasonable to expect them to make a more substantial contribution to the common good and not only reasonable for them to make that contribution but desirable for our society that we achieve a more equal economy and wealth.''
Mr Harvie said the party had not made any assumption about the specific amount of additional revenue the 60p rate would bring in.
The proposed residential property tax would be brought in over a five-year transition period to minimise the impact of the change, with options to reduce or defer payment in cases of hardship.
The amount households pay would be based on an annually updated value of what their home is worth, with the precise tax rate set by local councils ``to fit local circumstances''.
According to the party's analysis, a rate of 1% across Scotland would bring in an additional £490 million after the transition period, with those in Band A paying an average of £326 less and those in Band H, the highest, an average of £5,552 more.
The party said the proposals were a "significant step'' towards its long-term policy of land value taxation.
Green local government spokesman and Lothian candidate Andy Wightman said: "Property owners and tenants are being left in a ridiculous situation by the SNP with a tax based on values from quarter of a century ago. Most people are paying the wrong amount.
"A wide variety of experts in this field have shown how a property tax can be made proportionate and progressive, and that is what the Scottish Greens are proposing.''