Predictable as clockwork, tax increases in Scotland are being touted by the not-so-brainy journalists we have to suffer here, as risking a ‘brain drain.’ Were there such a thing in the Express or in most other Scottish Unionist newspapers (SUN), would we notice? I think not.
In January 2019, I spent some time showing that this notion never survives a collision with the evidence (I do like that line), triggered by a report in the Scotsman. Such is my contempt for such churnalism and, of course, my intrinsic laziness, I’ll just repeat it again, below:
The Scottish Conservatives Branch’s, Temporary Press Liaison Officer, Murdo Fraser has alerted the Scotsman to a serious problem of imminent tax-flight by Scotland’s better paid individuals:
‘While many people will not have much sympathy for the decrease in higher incomes, further tax increases could push this income bracket to leave and deny Scotland any tax take. However, the SNP tax hikes will also charge middle earners more compared to the rest of the UK, which, after such small wage growth, seems punitive.’
Fraser seems to have been unable to include factors such as free student tuition, care for the elderly or free prescriptions into his overall assessment of the tax burden in Scotland.
The Scotsman has, unusually [:-)], failed to undertake any proper background research to establish the basis or lack of basis for Fraser’s claim.
However, a US study of every million-dollar earner, reported in the Guardian in 2017, does not support him:
‘Only about 2.4% of US-based millionaires change their state of residence in a given year. Interstate migration is actually more common among the US middle [working] class, and almost twice as common among its poorest residents, who have an annual interstate migration rate of 4.5%.’
The greater mobility among the poorer residents, reflects the lack of welfare benefits and worker protections in the US compared to those in Scotland. Even the low-level of mobility of millionaires in the US may be higher than we should expect in Scotland given the additional pull factors here of lower crime, a more efficient health service and more attractive recreational environment than is available in England.
Further evidence undermining Fraser’s notions comes from Forbes, also reported in the Guardian in 2017:
‘Analysis of this list shows most of the world’s billionaires – about 84% – still live in their country of birth. And among those who do live abroad, most moved to their current country of residence long before they became wealthy – either as children with their parents, or as students going abroad to study (and then staying). The world’s billionaires largely live where they were born or where they began their careers. Only about 5% of world billionaires moved abroad after they became successful. These individuals readily fit the stereotype of a “transnational capitalist class” – unplugged from their nation state, travelling the world for some combination of tax avoidance and cosmopolitan lifestyle.’
So, just the word of one partisan member of a party dedicated to low-taxation is all you need for a report, ‘Scotsman.?’