Clegg Says Higher Income-Tax Threshold a ‘Red Line’ for Lib Dems

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said raising the level at which Britons start paying income tax is a “red line” for his Liberal Democrats in any post-election coalition negotiations.

The party, in government with Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives since 2010, won’t support a Tory-or Labour-led administration after May 7 without a commitment to raise the personal allowance to 12,500 pounds ($19,325) by 2020, Clegg is due to say in a clip aired by ITV News Wednesday.

“That way the British public know that no matter the color of the government, if the Liberal Democrats are a part of it, their taxes will be cut,” Clegg said, according to e-mailed remarks.

Polls show neither the Tories nor Labour are set to win an outright majority at the election, leaving them dependent on smaller parties. Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, facing the potential loss of half their seats, are presenting themselves as a party of coalition capable of giving the Conservatives a “heart” and Labour a “brain” in government.

The personal allowance has risen from 6,475 pounds when the coalition took office to 10,600 pounds in the current fiscal year. The Liberal Democrats said the threshold must be increased to 11,000 pounds next April, with the cost paid for “fairly,” not through cuts to public services.

The Conservatives also pledged to raise the personal allowance to 12,500 pounds in their manifesto, while Labour says it will introduce a starting rate of income tax of 10 percent, lower than the current 20 percent.

It’s the third non-negotiable commitment the Liberal Democrats have outlined as Clegg prepares for likely coalition negotiations after the election. The others are protecting the education budget and holding a “stability budget” within 50 days of the vote, including a commitment to balance the books following a clear timetable.

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