They never get a good press, tax exiles. They are seen much more as selfish citizens who would rather escape their domestic responsibilities and flee to those countries where the government lets them keep more of their own money.
Monaco, the Seychelles and the Channel Islands are some of the favourite spots for Britons seeking to escape the taxman’s tentacles. And London is already said to be full of so-called tax exiles – rich foreigners who settle here, don’t pay much tax, and buy up all the best houses.
But it’s time the English get ready for a new breed of tax exiles: the Scots. For Chancellor Kwarteng’s decision to cut the basic rate of income tax to 19p and to abolish the 45p top rate will apply only to English taxpayers.
It’s up to Nicola Sturgeon to decide whether to follow suit. Though she is expected to change the lower tax band, her fierce determination to be different means she’ll most likely keep the top rate at 46p.
The different rates on either side of the Cheviots will mean that middle income earners on £50,000 per year will pay nearly £2,000 more tax in Scotland than England, and anyone earning £200,000 a year in Scotland will pay an astonishing £6,000 or more in tax than in England. A very expensive price indeed.
It’s not as if Scots are getting better services for paying such copious amounts. Add the tax differential to the fact that, according to the latest figures, men and women can expect to live, on average, between two to three years longer in England than in Scotland, and the supposed attractions of Sturgeon’s Scotland are impossible to quantify. As a result, her message to Scots is a simple one: go south if you want to keep more of your own money and live a longer life.
In any case, doesn’t England need more Scots? It is said that every Scot who leaves Scotland for England raises the IQ of both countries.