Tag Archives: Tax

Leading economist backs North Sea tax breaks

By Paul Hyland

A leading UK energy economist has backed calls for tax reform for North Sea oil exploration and extraction.

Professor Alexander Kemp, Professor of Petroleum Economics and Director of Aberdeen Centre for Research in Energy Economics and Finance at the University of Aberdeen, has backed a report by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) calling for tax cuts for the industry.

Professor Kemp said tax cuts were important to combat declining efficiency in the North Sea.

“The North Sea oil and gas industry is a maturing one and the recent performance has been one of declining production, declining production efficiency and declining exploration. We now have on top of all that, a substantial fall in the oil price which makes some future projects not yet sanctioned, non-commercial.

“The tax system needs to adjust to the new operating environment of much lower oil prices and high cost per barrel which is currently the position. So in the North Sea, for very old fields, we have a marginal rate of tax going up to 81 percent and for newer fields at 62 percent and certainly I go along with the idea that tax reform is needed in the present condition of the industry.”

The AGCC reported in their recent survey that 62 percent of oil and gas firms believed fiscal reform should be the government’s top priority.

The AGCC survey showed confidence had hit a six year low in the industry’s prospects among firms. They are calling for changes in fiscal policy for the industry in Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on December 3rd.

However, environmental groups have argued it would be a mistake to give oil and gas firms a tax break.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “The science is clear. To reduce the risk of dangerous global climate change, the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground and not exploited. Therefore the last thing we need to see is even more tax breaks or subsidies for new North Sea oil drilling.

“We instead need to see an energy transition that enables us to harness the engineering skills currently deployed in the oil and gas industry and apply them to supporting a range of cleaner forms of energy production.”

Mary Church, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “If the UK Government is serious about tackling climate change it must refuse this request for yet more subsidies for these big corporations.

“Climate science tells us we need to leave 80 percent of known fossil fuels reserves in the ground so incentivising their further extraction is dangerous and shortsighted.

“We should instead be investing in clean, locally-owned renewables rather than propping up dirty energy companies.”

However, Professor Kemp argued: “Well that’s all fine, to put our effort into renewable energy and reducing the CO2 emissions but we should remember that you can’t just stop using oil and gas overnight, it has to be a gradual process, otherwise there would be tremendous disruption to the economy.

“The tax system in the North Sea is much tougher than it is for other industries. In other industries the tax rate is only 21% and will be 20% next year, so they get much more favourable treatment.

“If we just cut down on our production, then I’m afraid that what would happen would be that we would just import more from countries which are not taking many steps to reduce their emissions. It’s called the CO2 leakage point.

“If the production in the North Sea went down further, then we are not going to use less oil, we are just going to import it from countries from the Middle East and Africa where they are not doing anything to reduce emissions.”


Barclays bonus revealed

£17 million is the figure received in pay, shares and perks by Barclays boss Bob Diamond last year – while the bank’s profits fell by 3%.

Diamond’s tax bill was also covered by the bank to the tune of £5.7 million.

The American-born chief executive received 80% of his maximum bonus, shares to the value of £2.7 million to supplement his £1.35 million salary.

It was also announced that 238 senior staff at Barclays were paid £1.2 million each, on average. It is expected that shareholders and campaigners alike will be angered by the pay deal, which comes after tension between Barclays and HM Revnue & Customs over schemes to avoid up to £300 million in tax.

You can read details Diamond’s payout in Barclay’s annual report.

Conference to end tax dodging

By Melissa Robertson

The Scotland Malawi Partnership Conference  held  on Wednesday the 7th of October announced that billions of dollars were lost to developing nations as a result international tax dodging. Christian Aid and the Scotland Malawi Partnership have joined forces to raise awareness of the devistating affects of cooporate companies who dodge their taxes each year.The conference was held in Edinburgh City Chambers.

The Christian Aid report 2009 states that “The estimated $ 160bn a year lost to developing countries . . . could save the lives of 350,000 children under the age of 5 each year”. It also states that “Tax is the most sustainable source of revenue for developing countries”.

The Scottish government has committed £13m to support five main countries in Africa including Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Sudan over the next three years. Alex Cobham, Head of Policy for Christian aid claims that although it is a good effort by the government outweigh the loss of funding to the developing countries  through taxes.

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell (courtesy of http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk)

MSP Jack McConnell reiterated the deep history that Scotland and Malawi have. He firmly declared that “Scotland had a wider responsibility than just promoting our own wealth and development.” and that “there had to be a moral purpose to our international relationships too”.

McConnell urged the different organizations represented to stand out against injustice and that ordinary people working together are capable to do extraordinary things.

Increase in stray dog tax will bite hard

by Emma Cameron.


Scottish taxpayers are set to face an eightfold rise in the cost of removing stray dogs from the streets.

Scotland largest police force, Strathclyde, has stated that annual bills for supplying kennels to ownerless pets could soar from £50,000 to more than £400,000 by the beginning of 2010. Senior police officers have been forced to increase their spending after the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) raised their charges for the service.

To date, Strathclyde police and other forces have simply handed stray animals over to homes run by the SSPCA for a relatively modest fee. Officers say they ‘managed’ almost 1500 strays last year, incurring charges of £52,000.

The SSPCA has recently announced that, by the end of 2009,  it will charge a flat rate of £250 per animal. Police have said that, even if the number of strays stays put, this rate will push kennelling bills up to £415,000.

In Scotland, under the 1906 Dogs Act, taxpayers, through police and councils, will pick up the tab for stray dogs. Strathclyde Police has asked the Scottish Government to change the law but justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has no plans to do so.

The SSPCA has countered that as a charity who receive no government funding and  are solely reliant on donations, it should not be expected to subsidise police and councils.

A spokesman from Strathclyde Police said that: “This highlights an alarming increase in the costs involved in handling stray dogs and comes at a time when the police budget is facing unprecedented constraints.”

Earlier this week, Strathclyde has warned that it may be facing a financial black hole. As a result, it plans to make up some of this blow from kennelling by recouping costs, including the £250 fee, from any owners they are able to trace.

The SSPCA has financial worries of its own, mainly due to adverts being shown for their English counterpart, the RSPCA and therefore the SSPCA’s  funding being curbed.

Stuart Earley, Chief Executive of the SSPCA, stated that: “All local authorities and police forces in Scotland have a statutory responsibility for kennelling stray dogs for up to seven days and we currently have contracts to house stray dogs with nine local authorities, based in the west of Scotland.”

“However, we analysed the figures and discovered our charges represented less than 20 per cent of the costs we were incurring; in effect we were subsidising the local authorities.”


HMRC To Cut Thousands Of Jobs

Her Majesty Revenue and Customs have today announced that they will be axing over three thousand jobs.

93 offices will close in total and 3,400 staff will be out of work by 2011.

This includes the closure of 20 offices in Scotland and the loss of around four-hundred staff.

HMRC are responsible for all aspects of taxing including the administration and collection of Income Tax, National Insurance Contributions, Stamp Duty and Child Benefit.

The Public and Commercial Services Union said on their website that this will affect businesses and the public.

They also condemned the actions for slowing down the process to claim back billions of pounds of uncollected tax and billions lost through tax evasion.

VAT Tax Cuts To Be Announced This Afternoon

By Jamie Nelson

Brown and Darling arriving at The Treasury this morning to put final adjustments to the PBR.
Brown and Darling arriving at The Treasury this morning to put final adjustments to the PBR.

Alistair Darling is expected to announce cuts to Value Added Tax from 17.5 percent to 15 percent in his Pre-Budget Report this afternoon.

Gordon Brown promised to use the tax cuts to inject a new vigour and interest into the British Economy.

Brown said: “Simply letting the recession run its course, to say there is no alternative, is not an option.”

The 2.5 percent cut in VAT is to be funded by another of the PBR main aspects – a 45 percent income tax increase to those earning £150,000 a year or more.

Conservative leader David Cameron was critical of the plans for change, calling it a “borrowing binge”.

He said: “ This lot are promising you everything, promising the Earth and they are going to clobber you with an enormous tax bill.”

The plans outlined in the Pre-Budget Report will put borrowing above £100 billion, leading the Conservative party to accuse Labour of creating and storing a “tax bombshell”

Brown rejected the claims and defended the Labour Party and Mr Darling’s stance, saying: “We have seen in previous recessions how a failure to take action at the start of the downturn has increased both the length and depth of the recession.

“Doing too little too late would mean more damage, more deterioration, the loss of vital businesses, a weaker economy, lower growth, eventually greater fiscal problems and in that event, higher interest rates and higher taxes.

“The best way for taxes to be low in the long term is for us to ensure that the downturn is as limited in length and scope as possible.

“And that means help when help is needed. Not when it is too late.”

Edinburgh Homeless Target Will Not Be Met

By Nicol J. Craig

The Scottish Government will now not meet its target of ceasing the practice of local authorities placing homeless in private accommodation by 2012, according to local councillor Gordon Munro.

Leith councillor Gordon Munro, who wants more social housing, said: “We’re at the end of 2008 now so we have three years to meet this target and it’s not looking good.”

He added: “It’s partly down to the capital effect as well. More people are coming from other areas into Edinburgh because they know they’ll get put into decent accommodation, possibly quicker.”

Edinburgh taxpayers currently have to pay at least four times more than anywhere else in Scotland to curb the cities homeless problem.

Recent figures show that 900 people were put into private rented accommodation in Glasgow last year compared to 200.

A council representative said the new figures do not take into account Edinburgh’s unique situation regarding the homeless.  Edinburgh requires three quarters of the nations affordable housing need, but receives only a quarter of the funding.  Council aids say that using the cities abundance of private rented accommodation is good for the homeless and good for landlords.

The council currently spends £2 million on putting up homeless people back into homes, but also uses the money on B&B’s up to £35 a night.

Councillor Paul Edie, housing leader, said: “We subsidise them going into private accommodation so they are not on the street and I don’t think it is a long-term solution, but short of getting more money for affordable housing it is just sticking plasters over the problem.

He added: “We need to build more council and social housing and faster because it does take time as well.”

The council are also discussing proposals to give council backed mortgages for those in rented accommodation that are in work.

Cameron Proposes Business Tax Cuts as Brown Fights Back.

Leader of the Conservatives David Cameron who this morning announced Conservative Tax Rebates for Businesses.
Leader of the Conservatives David Cameron who this morning announced Conservative Tax Rebates for Businesses.

By Lindsay Muir.

Leader of the Conservative party David Cameron this morning announced Tory proposals to slash the National Insurance contributions paid by businesses. The announcement comes less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Gordon Brown hinted at possible tax cuts in the face of a financial crisis that shows no signs of abating.

The Conservatives plan to save businesses £2,500 on their National Insurance contributions should they employ a jobseeker who has been out of work for 3 months or more. They claim that the scheme could save businesses around £2.5bn as well as creating 350,000 jobs. The scheme would be a saving on the £8,000 which the Tories claim is the true cost of unemployment benefit per unemployed worker.

Mr Cameron stated in his press conference this morning “we would like to take that money and give it to employers if they take people off the unemployment register.” His announcement follows, what he claims, was successful implementation of a similar scheme in the United States and Canada.

Gordon Brown has attacked the Conservative proposals after calls for him to “personally guarantee” that unemployment figures will not rise above 3 million. The Premier has defended the new deal scheme calling it “the best employment-creation scheme in the world”, a scheme that the Tories wish to scrap. Mr Brown also stated that the Tories proposal is an expensive one which would not necessarily guarantee the creation of more jobs. He also rubbished the Conservative rejection of tax-credits, which he claims offer the unemployed an added incentive to find work.

This morning’s verbal scrap between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition comes as a Populous poll for the Times newspaper put the Prime Ministers approval rating at 35% up five points on last month while the Tories were down 4 points to 41%. Interestingly 52% of those polled were of the opinion that Gordon Brown was still the best man to deal with the current financial crisis compared to just 32% in support of David Cameron. Nevertheless 42% still believe that David Cameron is the right man to lead Britain after the next general-election.