Income tax: Conservatives have ‘no plans’ to raise tax – BBC News

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Image caption Sir Michael Fallon said high earners had nothing to worry about

Senior Conservatives have said there are “no plans” to raise income tax if the party wins the general election, in an apparent change of policy.

Sir Michael Fallon said high earners had nothing to worry about, while Boris Johnson said there were “absolutely no plans to raise income tax”.

It comes after PM Theresa May scrapped a 2015 commitment not to raise VAT, National Insurance or income tax.

Labour said low earners have had “no guarantee from Theresa May” over tax.

The Conservative manifesto had committed the party to keep tax “as low as possible” but had not ruled out increases in income tax.

However, Defence Secretary Sir Michael told the Daily Telegraph that income tax “absolutely” will not rise under a new Conservative government.

“You’ve seen our record. We’re not in the business of punishing people for getting on, on the contrary we want people to keep more of their earnings,” he added.

Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson was then challenged on BBC’s Newsnight to repeat the promise.

He said: “We will bear down on taxation and we have absolutely no plans to raise income tax. Our plans are to cut taxes. Labour’s plans are to put them up.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said it was neither a pledge nor a promise

At the 2015 general election, David Cameron promised that income tax, National Insurance, and VAT – the so-called “triple lock” – would not go up under a Conservative government.

That promise lead to a U-turn earlier this year when Mrs May’s government had to ditch plans to raise National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.

The 2017 Conservative manifesto only promises not to raise VAT.

Under the plans, the Tories have pledged to increase the personal allowance to 12,500 and raise the minimum earnings for the 40p higher rate to 50,000 by 2020.

Image caption Boris Johnson said “our plans are to cut taxes. Labour’s plans are to put them up”

But Sir Michael appeared to go further in his Telegraph interview.

Asked whether high earners could confidently vote Conservative, safe in the knowledge their income tax wouldn’t go up, he told the paper “Yes”.

A Conservative spokesman said it was the party’s aim to reduce taxes across the board.

BBC political correspondent Gary O’Donoghue said Theresa May had been keen not to box herself in too much when it came to promises on taxation, but the party may now feel it has to send some signals to ensure its supporters turn out in numbers.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Sir Michael’s comments showed the Tories were the party for “the few, not the many”.

“The only guarantee the Tories are prepared to give at this election is to big business and high earners while low and middle income earners have seen no guarantee from Theresa May that their taxes won’t be raised,” he said.

What are the other parties pledging?

Labour has promised to raise the income tax rate to 45p for earnings above 80,000 and to 50p for each pound earned over 123,000.

It says it will not raise income tax for those earning less than 80,000.

It says the planned rises for higher earners will help fund billions of pounds of investment for schools and the NHS and an expansion of free childcare, in what it calls a “programme of hope”.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have pledged to increase income tax by a penny to help pay for the NHS, social care and mental health.

The SNP says it would support the idea of raising the top rate of income tax for those earning more than 150,000 from 45p to 50p.

It says there would be no increase in taxation on the low paid, in national insurance or in VAT.

Whereas, the Green Party wants to implement a wealth tax on the top 1% of earners and introduce a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions.

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