THE SNP will today make restoring a 50p top rate of income tax a manifesto promise for the coming election.


Deputy leader Stewart Hosie will give the commitment in his address to the party's spring conference in Glasgow this afternoon.

The change means SNP MPs would support Labour's plan to restore the 50p rate in the next budget - a further indication of SNP willingness to cooperate with Ed Miliband in a hung parliament.

The offer is also designed to make it harder for Miliband to reject some form of alliance with the SNP if the parliamentary arithmetic permits one.

Introduced in the dying days of the last Labour government, the 50p rate on incomes over £150,000 was reduced to 45p by Tory chancellor George Osborne in April 2013.

Miliband has promised to restore it to 50p if Labour is in power after May 7.

A source close to Hosie said: "It was Stewart and the SNP who moved the vote in the House of Commons in 2012 to stop the tax cut for millionaires.

"We wouldn't have cut the 50p tax rate for the very highest earners during a recession, and we still think that people earning more than £150,000 should bear more of the burden.

"Therefore, in the next parliament, SNP MPs will support the re-introduction of the 50p tax rate for the very wealthiest in society."

Around 15,000 people in Scotland and 300,000 in the UK would be liable for the 50p rate, which ought to raise an extra £675m in 206/17.

Meanwhile, yesterday, John Swinney insisted Scotland's new tax collection system was ready to go live, despite previous teething problems over IT and staffing.

The Finance Secretary said Revenue Scotland was ready to start work on Wednesday, when it begins collecting the first wholly Scottish taxes in 300 years.

The new organisation expects to pull in £550m in its first year from Land & Buildings Transaction Tax, the Scottish replacement for stamp duty, and a Scottish Landfill Tax.

In December, the public spending watchdog Audit Scotland warned delays in hiring staff and procuring an IT system had increased the risk it the taxed would "not be effectively managed" when they came into force on April 1.

The report forced Revenue Scotland head Eleanor Emberson to defend her record before Scottish Parliament's Public Audit Committee.

However Swinney said all was now on track.

"Wednesday will be a significant day for Scotland, as for the first time in 300 years we will have the ability to collect and manage some of our own taxes.

"Revenue Scotland has in place a team with expert legal, financial, leadership and operational tax experience.

"We will continue to closely monitor Revenue Scotland's progress in the coming months, but I am confident we have the robust plans in place to ensure smooth delivery of the service."

Emberson said her agency had been working with the Law Society of Scotland, the Chartered Institute of Taxation and the Institute of Chartered Accounts in Scotland to help the launch go smoothly, with more than 2770 solicitors and conveyancers already using its online system.

She said: "We are committed to working to the principles laid out by Adam Smith - proportionality, certainty, convenience and efficiency - and that is the service we will provide."

Dr Keith Nicholson, chair of Revenue Scotland, said "robust governance structures" were in place at the organisation.