Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Top-Rate Tax Cut 'Not a Priority' Says Osborne

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Top-Rate Tax Cut 'Not a Priority' Says Osborne

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Churcher Reporter

CUTTING the top rate of income tax is not "one of our priorities", George Osborne said as he repeatedly ducked Labour calls for him to rule out further help for top earners if the Tories win the General Election.

The Chancellor said the party's "big tax commitments" for the next parliament were further raising the tax-free personal allowance and raising thresholds so only those earning PS50,000 or more would pay the higher 40p rate.

Labour has pledged to restore the 50p rate on PS150,000-plus salaries, claiming those earning seven-figure sums have benefited by at least PS85,000 over the two years since it was cut to 45p and warn Mr Osborne could push it lower still.

A further reduction to 40p would mean PS1 million earners having another PS340,000 shaved off their bill over the course of a Parliament, shadow chancellor Ed Balls said - urging Mr Osborne to "come clean" over his plans.

But pressed repeatedly to say whether another cut was on the cards, the Chancellor told the Murnaghan show on Sky News: "If that was our priority or our plan we would have made it part of our plan and made it one of our priorities.

He went on: "That's not our plan.

Judge us by what we want to do and what we want to do is increase the tax-free personal allowance to PS12,500 so people full-time on the minimum wage don't have to pay income tax and millions are better off. "And when it comes to higher rate taxpayers our priority is increasing the threshold at which you pay that higher rate, the 40p rate, to PS50,000.

"Those are our big tax commitments for the coming parliament." The two main parties have clashed repeatedly over tax plans - with the Tories ruling out a rise in VAT and Labour in National Insurance contributions under pressure from each other in recent weeks.

Shadow chief secretary Chris Leslie said Mr Osborne had been "flushed out", adding: "Their priority is always about helping the very richest in society". …

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