Ahead of the tomorrow’s general election the Sentinel asked our local candidates if the UK budget was managed fairly and how they would alter the current tax take and distribution had they any say in the matter.
The Sentinel asked each candidate in Foyle if Budget 2015 - set by the Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne - was fair and how they would change it were they in charge.
According to the Treasury the UK budget deficit currently stands at around £76billion. It was £163billion when the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition took power in 2010.
In 2015 the Treasury reckons it has to pay for £743billion worth of Debt Interest, Public Order and Safety, Housing and Environment, Industry, Agriculture and Employment, Defence, Education, Transport, Health, Social Protection and Personal Social Services.
But money raised through Government tax receipts from Council Tax, Business Rates, VAT, Corporation Tax, Income Tax, Excise Duties, National Insurance, Capital Taxes, Stamp Duties, Vehicle Excise Duties, and other sources for 2015/16 is projected at just £667billion.
Because some of the taxes mentioned above do not apply in Northern Ireland or differ in the rates that are applied across various income grades
the Sentinel asked the election hopefuls to focus on the fixed tax rates - as current - that bring in the vast majority of revenue.
For the record the tax rates in question for 2015/16 are Capital Gains (18 per cent); Corporation Tax (main 20 per cent); Income Tax rates (basic 20 per cent) (higher [£31,786-£150,000] 40 per cent) (additional [over £150,000] 45 per cent); Inheritance Tax (40 per cent with a ceiling of £325,000); National Insurance (basic employee rate [over £155] 12 per cent); VAT (20 per cent).
Under the current Government the main rate of corporation tax has been slashed by eight per cent; people earning between £31,786 and £37,401 have been lifted out of the 40 per cent Income Tax band and into the 20 per cent band; the biggest earners have seen their Income Tax cut by five per cent; the National Insurance basic employee rate has been increased from £110 to £155 but has also been hiked from 11 per cent to 12 per cent; and VAT has been hiked from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent.
So, do you want to tax the wealthy by lowering the inheritance tax ceiling and raising the highest income tax rate? Or do you want to hit the poorest people in society with a hike in VAT or hammer workers and businesses with NIC increases?
Perhaps you want to reduce tax rates and cut down on government expenditure and close a few unnecessary police stations, schools and hospitals.
Over to you folks. How would you manage the budget?
The Sentinel asked all of the candidates for a response. We were provided with responses by four. See responses below.