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NoNSense: Whisky Export Duty Doesn't Exist.
We can't base the funding of the NHS and other services on imaginary taxes.
The day after this post goes live the SNP conference will give a platform to Paul Kavanagh, an activist whose most notable contribution to the independence cause was leading the charge against the theft of export duties on Scotch whisky. The only problem is that there are no export duties on Scotch.
Don’t Repeat Their Frame
The idea behind this claim is that England is stealing Scotland’s resources.
In this instance, that idea is as clearly untrue as it is possible to be. However, remember that repeating a lie, even to deny it, amplifies the lie. Don’t get into an argument about Scotland’s share of taxes or other resources - that encourages the idea that Scotland is already somehow separate and encourages thinking about resources as something which must be hoarded rather than shared. Instead stick to the Achilles heel of this claim: this tax does not exist.
That this myth continues to be spread is a sign of the weakness of the nationalist case: they can’t make the sums add up by counting up the taxes we really pay so they have to create make-believe ones to explain away the massive austerity that would come from giving up our share of UK funds.
The thing the nationalists are claiming is stolen does not exist. They need you to be angry at England so much that they are simply making things up. Thankfully you are smarter than that. Of course, we can have a conversation about the best way to fund the NHS and other public services, but surely we can all agree they can’t be paid for by taxes that don’t exist?
Claim: whisky export duty goes to London and is stolen from Scotland.
There is no export duty on whisky. If you don’t believe me, maybe you will believe the SNP government’s own economists who were forced to come out and explicitly say that this mythical tax:
“There is no export duty in the UK.”
The thing that makes this particular nationalist myth so daft is that it is only whisky that is not exported that has Duty collected on it.
If other states collect duty on whisky it goes to their treasury. If we were a different country from the rest of the UK then any duty put on a bottle of whisky would still go the UK treasury, not to a separate treasury in Scotland.
If that doesn’t make sense, think of it this way: the UK collects duty on French champagne, Jamaican rum, and Mexican tequila but those tax revenues do not go the French, Jamaican or Mexican government’s coffers. A separate state could do many things, it couldn’t sequester the taxes paid in other states.
Claim: whisky taxes are not allocated to Scotland in GERS.
First of all, very obviously the imaginary export duties are not counted in GERS because they don’t exist.
Duties paid on whisky are covered in GERS, the official statistics on taxes collected in Scotland. Sometimes nationalists argue that it is wrong that all duty paid on whisky is not allocated to Scotland, but, again, this is a consumption tax. So whisky duty paid by consumers in the rest of the UK is allocated to the rest of the UK and whisky duty paid by Scottish consumers is allocated to Scotland.
Sometimes the argument is that other taxes associated with the whisky industry are not allocated to us, such as income tax paid by workers or taxes on whisky company profits. Again, the SNP Government’s own economists wearily issued a statement to make it clear this was not true:
“Like any industry, the whisky industry’s activity in Scotland generates tax revenue through a range of sources, such as corporation tax on profits, income tax and national insurance contributions on staff earnings, and non-domestic rates payments on business premises. These are all captured in the estimates of Scottish public sector receipts reported in GERS. In addition, whisky consumed in the UK is subject to VAT and alcohol duty. This is assigned to Scotland on the basis of how much is consumed in Scotland.”
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