Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Devolution of corporation tax could still be a costly decision

Eamonn Donaghy and others make a strong case for the devolution of corporation tax, but the omens are not good, if we look at what happened in Scotland and Wales.

The Scotland Bill, which is now more or less finalised, does not contain the measure.

And rumour has it that John Swinney, the Scots equivalent of our own Sammy Wilson (right), was told the cost to the block grant would be £1.3billion-a-year, plus administration fees to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs of up to £1billion. Instead, they got the power to vary income tax.

In Wales, the Silk Commission has been looking at the prospects of devolving more powers and expectations are similar to Scotland.

Of course, the Scots have a far bigger corporate sector than us and our bill would not be so large.

Yet even here the projection is of a £750million annual bill after 10 years, though it would be less initially.

Can we expect anything different? An optimist might think that, once Scotland is out of the way, we can argue a special case. Westminster wants to free us of our dependency on the public purse - now running at £100-a-week for each of us - and might be prepared to cut us a better deal.

Or they might squeeze us. These won't be easy negotiations.

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