The issue of who pays the tax is central to discussions on a new formula for Scotland’s finances within the Union. As Scotland takes over responsibility for income tax and others, so there needs to be a new grant formula to reflect the revenues she retains for herself.
Scotland’s share of overall revenues in 2014-15 was 7.8% (splitting oil revenues on a population basis). Within this Scotland collected a smaller share of capital and enterprise taxes like IHT, Stamp Duty and CGT, at around 5% of the total, but a higher proportion than her average of spending taxes like VAT, Spirits duty and tobacco tax. Scotland supplied 7.3% of the Income tax receipts, a little below her receipts average.
The SNP have argued in the past that most of the oil revenues should be attributed to Scotland as much of the oil is landed in Scotland. This is currently an irrelevance as the oil revenues have all disappeared thanks to the collapse of the oil price.
The Scottish government pointed out that in 2011-12 when more oil was being produced from the North Sea at much higher prices oil revenues ran as high as 16% of total attributed revenues, at a similar sum to Income tax or VAT. Unfortunately the natural decline of the North Sea reservoirs, alongside cancelled investment in exploration and new production at current oil prices, means those revenue sums are not going to be seen again anytime soon.
Worse still for the Scottish economy, we are now witnessing too many job cuts and pay cuts in the once lucrative North oil and oil service sectors. The Aberdeen area in particular is an area with many highly paid jobs generating substantial Income tax revenues for the UK state. Just at the point where this revenue passes to the Scottish government , it is in sharp decline.
I am asking questions to find out how the Scottish and UK government propose to handle this natural fluctuation or decline in Scottish income tax receipts. It is very relevant to how the Union’s finances will look in the new devolved model.