Peter Hoskin

The Tories should step around any more 45p tax traps

More and more details are emerging about this week’s Budget, including this eyecatching snippet in today’s Sunday Times:

“Darling is also considering new postelection tax rises, which could include beefing up the planned supertax on higher earners. Last year the chancellor announced the introduction in 2011 of a 45% top rate of income tax for people earning more than £150,000.

Darling has come under pressure from Labour colleagues to reduce this new top-rate threshold to £100,000 – a move that would lead to higher tax bills for 500,000 high earners.”

Once again, this would set a 45p tax trap for the Tories – if Cameron & Co. stand against it, then they will be caricatured as a party of the rich, for the rich; but if they follow suit, then they will stir up another heated tax debate within their own party. 

But you feel Osborne has learnt from his last dalliance with 45p tax.  In his interview with the FT last week, he stressed that the Tories would put spending cuts before tax rises – “You don’t want to kill off the recovery with heavy tax rises that bring you back to square one” – and added that, pre-election, his party would present most of their tax ‘n’ spend policy in terms of “broad principles” only.  By this twin approach he can step around the Labour pitfalls, rather than diving right into them.

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