Daily question: How much does Scotland pay in tax and how much does it spend?

As the people of Scotland weigh up how to vote in the independence referendum, they are asking questions on a range of topics.

In this series, we are looking at those major questions and by using statistics, analysis and expert views shining a light on some of the possible answers.

Here we look at taxes and find out how much Scotland pays and how much it spends.

Do you have a referendum question? Let us know by....

BBC news website users, including Alan McNulty, Bob Farquharson, Sya Simpson, Scott Morrison, Ian Metcalfe, Robert Donald, Angus Armstrong and Nigel Laws, have asked a variety of questions about tax.

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How much does Scotland pay in taxes and how much does it spend?
tax sign

This is a question which has dominated Scottish political debate for decades, fuelling resentment on both sides of the border.

And the truth is complicated by two factors, oil and debt.

Scotland's tax conundrum

In 2012-13

£53bn

Tax revenue generated by Scotland

  • 9.1% of UK tax revenue came from Scotland

  • 8.3% of the UK population live in Scotland

  • £10,000 tax per head in Scotland

  • £9,200 tax per head, rest of UK

Or to put it another way, for every person in Scotland last year, the exchequer received £800 more than the UK average.

And that gap is not new. The Scottish government has produced experimental statistics suggesting that Scottish tax receipts have been higher than the UK average in every one of the past 33 years.

Of course all of these statistics rely on certain assumptions and one in particular makes a big difference.

The figures for 2012/13 assume that 84.2% of taxes from UK oil and gas accrued to Scotland, a geographic share calculated by experts from the University of Aberdeen based on the existing North Sea fisheries boundary.

Allocate the oil on a population basis (8.3% rather than 84.2%) and Scotland's tax receipts for 2012/13 were £48.1bn (rather than £53.1bn), equivalent to 8.2% of the UK total tax take.

Strip out the oil altogether and they were £47.6bn, also around 8.2% of the UK total.

Scotland, remember, has 8.3% of the UK population.

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And what about spending?
smashing a piggybank

But of course taxation is only part of the story. When it comes to spending, Scotland is above average.

In 2012/13 total public spending in Scotland was estimated to be £65.2bn, or 9.3% of total UK spending, with a population of 8.3%.

This figure takes into account a share of spending by UK government departments, including benefits payments, as well as a population-based slice of interest payments on the UK national debt.

So, even by the most generous measure, Scotland raised £53.1bn in 2012/13 and spent £65.2bn, leaving the country £12.1bn short.

In the same period, the UK had a shortfall of £117.4bn.

Public expenditure graph

According to the Treasury, public spending in Scotland is higher than anywhere else in the UK apart from Northern Ireland. Explanations have included Scotland's relative sparseness and its poor health.

But if Scotland is spending beyond its means - and clearly it is - then so too is the UK.

Both are running a deficit, the difference between the money a country raises in taxes and the amount it spends and invests.

The latest comprehensive snapshot concluded that Scotland was running a larger deficit as a percentage of economic output than the UK average.

Deficits compared

Net fiscal balance

  • Scotland (including geog. share of oil revenue, 2012-13) £12.1bn

  • UK (including 100% of oil revenue, 2012-13) £114.8bn

  • Scotland (2011-12) £8.6bn

  • UK (2011-12) £117.4bn

We can see that Scotland's deficit increased sharply between 2011/12 and 2012/13, up by £3.5bn. Excluding oil revenue, Scotland's deficit would have been considerably higher in 2012/13 at £17.6bn, or 14% of GDP.

But this has been unusual. In recent years, Scotland has actually been running a smaller deficit as a percentage of GDP than the UK average.

Chart showing deficit
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Why is this?
oil platforms

Again, it comes down to oil. The year 2012/13 was a particularly unflattering one for the Scottish economy because of what might be called an "oil shock", a dramatic fall in tax revenue from the UK continental shelf.

This was blamed on the North Sea industry's worst leak for 20 years which cut production in Total's Elgin-Franklin field, along with particularly high levels of investment eating into profits and therefore taxes.

Such a spectacular change underlines the difficulty in predicting with any certainty future revenues from oil and gas.

Campaigners for independence say Scotland's underlying economy is strong and oil is a bonus. Supporters of the union say an independent Scotland would be dangerously reliant on one volatile resource.

Either way, reducing borrowing without hiking taxes or cutting services will remain a big challenge, whether Scotland votes "Yes" or "No" in the referendum.

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    Barbara Craxton: Good Lord ! Yes by all means if you wish to throw away money at an astronomical rate then by all means feel free. To spend a cumulative £5m with such a low return in the hopes that people will travel to such a remote location in the hope that it will create a hub is in my opinion insane. I was born in Scotland and live in Vancouver BC Canada. I have no clue where this town you wish to place the tapestry is and the likelihood of me making the journey there is zero. However, if it was in Edinburgh or Glasgow it would be a destination on my list. This is a tapestry of huge historical significance, yes? So put it where it is most accessible to international as well as local tourists. It's hard to fathom there is even a question as to where it should be placed. Dumbfounded.

    Great Tapestry of Scotland

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    The Great Tapestry of Scotland

    EB: It is a case of making this wonderful national piece of art available for view to the greatest number of people. It is obvious that a far greater number of Scots and foreigners will have the opportunity to see the tapestry if housed in either Edinburgh or Glasgow, may also quickly recover costs.

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    Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney

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    Scottish bank notes and pound coins

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    Hearing dogs can help deaf people with everything from waking up in the morning to alerting them to sounds such as a phone or a doorbell ringing.

    Aster the hearing dog

    They could even be responsible for saving their deaf partner's life in an emergency.

    I've been to meet Aster: The first Hearing Dog to be trained entirely in Scotland.

     
  58.  
    07:50: Naismith feeling good about Goodison

    Scotland international Steven Naismith says he is on the crest of a wave at Everton.

    The former Rangers forward has signed a new three-year deal to remain at Goodison until 2019.

    Steven Naismith scoring for Everton

    "I would say this is probably the best form of my career," he said. "I'm delighted to have agreed an extension which will keep me here for a few more years yet."

    The 28-year-old, who joined Everton from Rangers in 2012, has found the net six times this season.

     
  59.  
    07:42: Occupational hazard David Miller BBC Scotland environment correspondent

    Scotland could lose the ability to respond quickly to nuclear emergencies if staffing is cut at a monitoring station, it has been claimed.

    The warning came from the former head of the Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards in Glasgow.

    The CRCE laboratory was the first in the UK to detect radioactive fallout from the Fukushima disaster

    The laboratory was the first in the UK to detect trace amounts of radioactive fallout from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011.

    It was established in the 1970s by the National Radiological Protection Board.

     
  60.  
    Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    The A725 is partially blocked by a broken down car at the Bellziehill Roundabout. Police are directing traffic.

     
  61.  
    07:35: What the papers say

    Care home children as young as 13 were caught by police at a "booze-fuelled alleged sex party", according to the Scottish Sun.

    The Daily Record describes how a man dressed as Santa was "huckled" by police after he hitched a ride on the Wellington statue in Glasgow.

    Thursday's newspapers

    The National reports on the "solidarity" shown by the people of Scotland to those affected by the Peshawar school massacre in Pakistan.

    Read our paper review here.

     
  62.  
    07:33: Tories urge house-buying tax change

    The Scottish Conservatives believe the "eye-watering" new tax rate for people buying homes between £250,000 and £500,000 should be halved.

    The Tories have outlined proposals for a property tax scale which they said would be fairer than that being introduced by the Scottish government.

    For Sale sign

    The new Land and Building Transactions Tax will replace stamp duty on houses purchased in Scotland from 1 April.

    Ministers claim tax will be reduced on houses costing up to £254,000.

     
  63.  
    07:29: Rangers latest

    Speculation over the future of Rangers manager Ally McCoist dominates the back pages of this morning's papers.

    McCoist remains in place following a meeting with the club's board but will be a hot topic of debate at Monday's AGM, the papers say.

    Rangers boss Ally McCoist

    Meanwhile, Hearts owner Ann Budge wants the Edinburgh side back in European competition by 2017.

    Read our round-up of the back page headlines here.

     
  64.  
    07:21: Rich tapestry of life

    Borders councillors are to decide whether to go ahead with building a permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland, at Tweedbank.

    The Scottish government has pledged £2.5m towards the scheme.

    However, that still means Scottish Borders Council would have to allocate up to £3.5m.

    The Great Tapestry of Scotland

    A report reckons the building could draw tens of thousands of visitors a year to the site, which is near to one end of the new Borders Railway line.

    Officially the world's largest embroidered tapestry, the 469ft (143m) artwork uses 300 miles (483km) of yarn to depict 42 million years of Scottish history across 160 panels.

     
  65.  
    07:14: Praise for university research Jamie McIvor BBC Scotland education correspondent

    The range and quality of research at Scotland's universities has been praised in a new UK-wide survey.

    Most Scottish universities have maintained or improved their standing in the league table.

    Overall Edinburgh University came out in 4th place while Glasgow University was 13th.

    More than 85% of university research in Scotland was judged to have an outstanding or very significant impact in wider society and economy.

    This figure was higher than the UK average.

     
  66.  
    07:08: Also on GMS Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    'Uncertainty' concern for Scottish finance sector, says Jeremy Peat.

    Jeremy Peat has compiled a new study of Scotland's financial sector.

    He's on #bbcgms at 07:35.

    Get the background from our Business and economy editor, Douglas Fraser.

     
  67.  
    07:05: Coming up... Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    More than 130,000 people expected in and out of @EDI_Airport over the festive period. Where are they heading? CEO Gordon Dewar #bbcgms 0720

    Good Morning Scotland programme

    Listen to the programme here.

     
  68.  
    How's the weather looking? BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Hi, Kawser here. Cloudy with rain & drizzle in the West - heavy at times. Drier and brighter further East. Colder & showery in Northern Scotland. Strong coastal winds.

     
  69.  
    07:02: Oil industry 'close to collapse'

    The UK's oil industry is in "crisis" as prices drop, a senior industry leader has told the BBC.

    Oil companies and service providers are cutting staff and investment to save money.

    Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers' association Brindex, told the BBC that the industry is "close to collapse".

    North Sea oil rig

    Almost no new projects in the North Sea are profitable with oil below $60, he claims.

    "It's almost impossible to make money at these oil prices", Mr Allan, who is a director of Premier Oil in addition to chairing Brindex, told the BBC. "It's a huge crisis."

     
  70.  
    07:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    It's early, it's time to get moving, it's Thursday's edition of Scotland Live...

     

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