I Demand a Rebate

Remember the rates? They caused uproar across the country until replaced by the community charge which offended every democrat (who wasn’t saving hundreds a year) and helped to usher out Margaret Thatcher. Council tax, dating from the early nineties, may be as unpopular but it has one strength – the collection rate is over 95 per cent because it’s based on a property, a fixed asset, rather than a mobile and devious individual taxpayer.

Ease of collection and the fact voters find it easy to understand means it has an appeal to governments, in the same way the Barnett Formula has survived so long. They moan about it in London but to the Civil Service it’s a simple calculation that streamlines the distribution process.

It was revealing that the cross-party group on reforming local taxation failed to come up with an agreed alternative and offered instead a range of options to be taken together. They preferred a mix of tax sources. If that looks like a cop-out, in a sense, it is. There is no precise and fair system which will bring in enough revenue which is why the government has come up with the plan to let councils keep a share of income tax if they build up economic growth in their area and to tax empty land. That could amount to a sizeable sum.

They have tinkered with payment levels in the existing council tax bands to generate a marginal amount – £100m – but in a way that hardly anyone will find unpalatable. Mine is likely to cost £9 or £10 more a month. There will be refunds and exemptions but the simplest part is that those living in 75 per cent of homes will be unaffected.

This trumps Labour’s offer of charging everyone a penny more in the pound and asking them to negotiate a refund system from councils (who aren’t the taxing authority). There is still a check on local government with a 3 per cent limit on future rises and the extra money raised from the E to H higher bands will be allocated to education – both to combat the attainment gap and again to outflank Labour. To those who argue this is undemocratic and distribution should be left to local authorities, I simply ask: What happened to nearly £1 billion of anti poverty funds given by the government to councils without ring-fencing? As oor Jackie Baillie will tell you – it ‘disappeared’ and not into the pockets of the poor.

There is a major disappointment here. Months of work by a cross-party group after statements indicating SNP support for abolition of the council tax and all the government comes up with is an amendment. It is cautious to the point of timidity. Personally, I favour a land tax and local sales tax as fair and collectable and I’m far from alone in bemoaning what may the last opportunity of years of getting to grips with local taxes and council accountability.

But am I surprised? Of course not. Today we are 64 days from voting in the Holyrood elections. How naive would it be to herald a massive reorganisation which sends people scurrying to find out how it affects them only to find there are no answers yet?

The Greens and the Left are astonished and angry but really, would they announce radical reform just ahead of a vote? There surely is a failure here to differentiate between principle and politics. Just because something seems to be the right thing to do, doesn’t mean it’s justified to a politician who is balancing people’s opinions with his or her own political interest. Somebody asks: Why not be radical when you’re at 60 per cent in the polls? But that’s exactly why you don’t take a risk. You’ve got the votes already and all you can do is lose them. The starry-eyed belief that people will just follow a good idea rather than their self interest at election time is disproved time and again. Before any major reform a prolonged period of information is needed to familiarise people with the changes and that was never going to happen in early 2016.

So instead of scary headlines about confusion and concern and unknown costs, the SNP gets this in the BBC: Highest council tax bands ‘to pay more’ says Nicola Sturgeon

Who’s going to argue with that? And, to be brutally honest, is a wider Scottish public going to turn on the words of radical groups who garner between six and nine per cent in the latest polls? (List only). Sorry…

Time and again the sections of opinion which are most radical  fail to grasp the gritty reality of politics – that it is a compromise-based activity.  That is the SNP’s road to success – built on capturing the centre ground. There is a reason why more doctrinaire parties have small support. It doesn’t make them wrong – on the contrary, in the case of the Greens, it looks increasingly as if their time is coming in terms of the environmental argument – it just puts them at odds with the public who may broadly agree but are fearful of anything that sounds dogmatic. You must do it this way because I’m sure I’m right. Indeed, they are suspicious of anything that sounds inflexible or unreasonable and lacks perspective. They rejected the Nationalists as such for decades until they softened their stance on Europe, accepted devolution as a reasonable advance and engaged in the wider debate on a full range of domestic policies. Promising to overhaul the entire system with no clear signpost to winners and losers nor even general consensus of what it should be, represents risk no sane leader would take. It will be interesting to see if the argument continues after the election and forces another and more radical re-think. It’s certainly fertile ground for Greens.

I maintain that for most Scots the campaign for a separate state is as radical as they get. They will look and, I suspect, applaud a package which

Doesn’t confront them with a dazzling new tax system

Is easy to understand

Ends the discredited council tax freeze

Leaves those in cheaper homes untouched

Gives an increased discount to low income families

Charges more to the better off

Doesn’t antagonise higher earners

Raises extra money which must go into education

Limits future council tax rises to 3 per cent

Embraces the prospect of a land tax

And allows councils to gain tax revenue from creating growth

At least the Greens have an alternative. It’s not clear to me that Labour have a worked-out plan to replace council tax, nor have the Conservatives, nor COLSA who all routinely complain. In fact the Tories didn’t even deign to take part in the discussions.

This is a disappointing package for any, like me, who don’t just want reform of local taxation but would like our entire tax system reviewed, streamlined and simplified from corporation tax and national insurance to council tax. The role, structure and funding of councils should be in there too.

But let’s not pretend this isn’t good politics. It’s exactly what you’d expect so near an election and will enforce SNP credentials. As soon as the critics open up, they will say only the better off pay more, the poor are protected and the money goes to our schools – guaranteed. Oh, and what’s your council tax replacement plan, Kezia?

 

 

 

 

 

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37 thoughts on “I Demand a Rebate

  1. Agree Derek, now is not the time but would like not just a discussion on ‘ council tax’ post election but actually about councils .
    Speaking to others, they like me , want to see a more equal system but not while the all knowing councils are in charge.
    Too many decisions dictated to the public but when questioned the stock reply seems to be ‘ a big boy did it and ran away’

  2. There is a major disappointment here. Months of work by a cross-party group after statements indicating SNP support for abolition of the council tax and all the government comes up with is an amendment. It is cautious to the point of timidity. Personally, I favour a land tax and local sales tax as fair and collectable and I’m far from alone in bemoaning what may the last opportunity of years of getting to grips with local taxes and council accountability.

    This is pretty much how I feel about it. I prefer LVT over this slight reform of the Council Tax. I do have kind of a serious concern about the SNP, and its overall direction. Apart from independence, which is obviously a major issue, do they really want to change Scotland? For me this comes on top of the land reform debacle, and it looks like the SNP are stuck in a timid, technocratic frame of mind. After the independence referendum, where we were rightly encouraged to imagine a better Scotland by the Yes campaign, this is timid, tepid stuff. How much longer can the SNP inspire people in significant numbers with this type of approach?

    • By concentrating on the ‘Personal Preference’ of Mr. Bateman, and aligning yourself with it, you, no doubt, bolster your opinion of yourself, but that also means that you ignore the main thrust of the Blog! This post centres mainly on the dictates of ‘Real Politique’ and the SNP can do nothing if they are not in Power.

      The vast majority of SNP Members and Supporters fully realise that Independence will not be achieved overnight and the ‘Art of Politics, is Compromise,’ but also understand that Independence is our primary Goal and unnecessary confrontation with our own supporters is the last thing we need!

      The first thing we need, is to win the Election and take a further Step along the Road to Independence! Only then will we have the Freedom to change and ‘inspire’ all of our Nation and have ‘all’ of our People Participate and decide on how we are to move Forward in the World.

      • @Charles Kearney

        I am well aware that winning elections is vital to achieving independence, and I would never deny that. But I find this part of your post concerning:

        The vast majority of SNP Members and Supporters fully realise that Independence will not be achieved overnight and the ‘Art of Politics, is Compromise,’ but also understand that Independence is our primary Goal and unnecessary confrontation with our own supporters is the last thing we need!

        It appears you regard any kind of polite questioning about the direction the SNP is going in as ‘unnecessary confrontation.’ So people should shut up and keep any reservations and doubts to themselves then? By the way, I was not bolstering my opinion of myself, I was agreeing because that is what I believe on that particular subject.

    • @Muttley79 Like you, I was initially I was disappointed by this announcement. It changes next to nothing, but it will have zero effect on the Holyrood vote and keep the MSM and opposition distracted for ages. However, I suspect the SG are playing a long game, where getting Revenue Scotland set up and collecting a scottish income tax is a fundamental step. Despite the Vow being delivered (!), the Smith bill is not get agreed or approved. That needs to happen before more radical changes occur, probably in 2018.

  3. So why announce the policy so close to the election then? After all this would hardly be the first thing kicked into the medium length grass now would it?

    • @Muscleguy

      There are bound to be questions about how long this policy is intended to last, given its timidity, and the fact that it has been decades since property was evaluated in Scotland. I had a look on the SNP Twitter and someone is describing it as a long term measure. I just cannot buy that at all, if they genuinely believe this to be the case. LVT is the answer imo.

    • jacquescoleman

      As has been mentioned by Derek and others… politics dear friend. the current proposals can do nothing but give the SNP a ‘good’ press and should remove opportunities for the opposition and their friends in the YOONY media to attack the SNP.

  4. Why is it just the top four bands paying arbitrarily more tax? Sure, no radical ideas before the election. Check.

    Revalue all properties in Scotland and make folk pay for what their houses are actually worth now, not 1991 prices. That’d solve a lot of problems regarding council funding. And fairness.

    • Disagree. Property is only one indicator of wealth. Sure, it should figure. But so too should household income and individual income.

      There are old ladies living on pensions who may be rich in ‘bricks’ (relative to some) but poor in income. And young professionals sharing a rented flat who are poor in bricks but whose joint household income exceeds £100k.

      • As a pensioner living in a G band house on a low combined income very frugally after spending lots of time in my life improving my property mostly by my own hand and money, never claiming benefits and just hoping to live out my years in a comfortable house that my wife and I enjoy, We find this new imposition and really stupid policy by the SNP one of our biggest disappointments. As supporters since the 70s, we were hoping to hear about council tax abolition as it is a ridiculously unfair tax. What happened to a tax that was related to people’s ability to pay? Part property and part local income tax would have been the way to go. I still hope common sense will prevail and the SNP will get back to being the only trustworthy party in the UK.

      • Firstly, let me state for the record that I disagree with the idea of Council Tax in principal. Why citizens should pay an arbitrary amount of tax on the value of their property is ludicrous.

        I believe that funding for local services should be based on a Pay As You Go tax system. This is fair and easy to understand. We’ve had PAYG mobiles for easily 20 years. A trivial example of this in action would be waste collection. Say I live alone and I only use 1/3 of my total bucket volume per week then I could opt to have the waste collected every 3 week instead. Or I could choose to have a bucket which is 1/3 smaller etc. The point is given the service is PAYG I would be paying for what I actually use. For local services like this PAYG makes sense. For other services like education etc then it makes more sense to have this money come out of income tax.

        Anyway, getting back to the SNP’s tax debacle, raising the council tax for those in the higher bands is at odds with their current economic/housing policy. The SNP government is actively encouraging builders to build new house and people to buy these houses. The value of these houses is taken at today’s prices, not 1991 prices. Therefore, people that purchased a new build are now being charged considerably more in council tax than someone who bought a cheap house in pre-1991 and watch it appreciate like crazy over the last 25 or so years.

        This council tax increase also completely ignores the fact that people that purchased new builds also parted with a chunk of stamp duty. Again, people with an highly appreciated house likely paid very little if, indeed, anything.

        Also, the examples you mention above, with the young professionals with a joint income of £100K – they will pay 40%+ in income tax. The old ladies in mansions will get relief (which completely ignores the fact that to get the mansion in the first place they’ve either inherited it, they were successful or their partners were successful and likely had access to capital). The young professionals will not. How does the government expect the young professionals you mention to be able to buy a bigger, better house when they’re paying £40K per year in income, £8K+ for stamp and now £2500+ per year on council tax?

        • Four young professionals renting a shared flat with a household income of £100k between them (£25k each) will not be paying tax at the higher rate…

    • Perhaps but the resulting bills would be rather unpalatable for every voter, even more so in Aberdeen where house values have probably tripled since 1991, my house was £2600 per year, frankly I couldn’t afford £7800.

      We need Independence first then we start doing these things incrementally like they did in the Scandinavian countries, they didn’t just hoick up taxes in one go, people had to be shown that it was for a good reason that would benefit everyone

      • On the other hand, there are many people who bought in the early years of this century who have not only not made a profit but who find themselves in negative equity. Their homes are worth less than when they bought them but their council tax charges are rising.

  5. jacquescoleman

    Quoting and paraphrasing Otto von Bismark, “Politics is not a science. It is an art. And it is the art of the possible.”

    And it would be artless and very bad politics for the SNP to do ANYTHING prior to the Holyrood elections which might endanger another overall majority and 5 year run in control of Scotland. After the Hollyrood elections will be the time for the SNP to become more radical in its plans. And it should do so.

    • @jacquescoleman

      I am pretty sure I was saying the exact same thing to other people who are pro-independence, but critical of the SNP, during the independence referendum. The problem with what you are advocating is that essentially the logical conclusion is that people should basically support everything the SNP says and does 100 per cent before we achieve independence. This is a ludicrous and illogical stance to take. I am pretty sure there was a lot of Labour supporters who were expecting Blair and Brown to be more radical in their second and third terms as well. How did that work out? Is this really healthy to be asking SNP and independence supporters to be self disciplined to the extent that they are disinclined to give their honest opinions on policies?

      • jacquescoleman

        “The problem with what you are advocating is that essentially the logical conclusion is that people should basically support everything the SNP says and does 100 per cent before we achieve independence.”

        Your brain must be addled to derive so much nonsense from the few words I wrote. I merely said that the SNP being excellent politicians would be unlikely to be tempted to make any stupid political moves a few weeks prior to such an important election. And I am certainly not “advocating” that members should agree with everything the SNP says or does.

  6. John S Warren

    The Local Tax Commission Report offered three options; an upgraded Council Tax, Local Income Tax and AGR (Annual Ground Rent to give it a meaningful title, sometimes known as LVT – Land Value Tax). It is clear from a careful reading of the report that the only method that stands up to proper, detailed economic scrutiny is AGR. The other two options only remain as Commission options for one essential reason; the public understands how they work, and the public is not familiar with AGR. They have little else to be said in their favour.

    The Scottish Land Revenue Group (SLRG: see http://s420649894.websitehome.co.uk/SLRG/) and others are working hard to change that lack of public understanding, but since AGR is so much the best option on grounds of equity and efficiency it is a case that it is vital to disseminate as widely as possible. We can be confident that once the public understands the issues (and it is not actually difficult to understand AGR), the public will support AGR as the only viable and credible economic option. Meanwhile, The solution now proposed by the Scottish Government may be viewed as a ‘temporary fix’ for a problem that requires to be tackled in a more fundamental, more viable and lasting way.

    The current methods of taxation in Britain do not work; a fact confirmed by the deep reluctance of British governments to raise most taxes, and the manifest failure of conventional wisdom in setting and applying taxes fairly or effectively; I need not rehearse here the ‘Google’ deal with HMRC (which is not open to ordinary taxpayers), or the widespread use of transfer-pricing, or tax havens, or other techniques of (often ‘aggressive’) tax avoidance. Ironically the British Government invites the Scottish government to use its new ‘powers’ by raising taxes; advice given to Holyrood by Westminster only because the British government does not follow its own advice (e.g.. on income tax) and clearly believes raising taxes will undermine political support for the SNP; belief based on experience: hence the headline tax transferred to Holyrrod is income tax.

    Generally in Britain we tax the wrong things; by which I mean we attempt to tax things that are intrinsically either capable of being relatively easily avoided (or even evaded), like profits or capital gains or even income (for those outside standard PAYE); or things that are difficult and costly to tax, or both. Worse, we tax hardest the very things we wish to encourage: labour, investment, enterprise; thus we create ‘deadweight loss’, destroying the economic growth we are trying to encourage. We have thus turned the raising of public revenues into something between a paradox and an oxymoron. In consequence, every day Governments face unresolvable dilemmas or ‘least-worst’ outcomes as the only available solutions to problems, from a menu of unpleasant options which the conventional wisdom has made inevitable. 

    AGR solves many of the most difficult problems intrinsic to the vexed problem of taxation (and for the taxpayer eliminates the costs of avoidance in professional fees); while adding a dynamic to economic growth (through the reduction in deadweight losses). Equally importantly, AGR offers a fair and equitable system to all taxpayers that actually serves real, rather than fake competition. 

    I would summarise the power of AGR in this way: our conventional local and central government taxation systems tax, often heavily all the public’s efforts to use their native skills, their enterprise, their investment and labour; AGR only taxes inertia. Which would you rather tax?

    • I can’t see how AGR would work well on its own. OK as an element of a more general wealth tax but income needs to be taken into consideration too. The value of land would be very high in densely populated urban areas where a lot of people are living, who are not high earners, but low in the Outer Hebrides (where local government needs money because providing a bin service is more expensive per household).

      I would need to see an illustration. The high value of land in highly populated urban areas does not generate wealth for the owners of the land. It is a passive resource which cannot be unlocked for the pwners, but income is active.

      • John S Warren

        The value of land is not uniform across the country. High value urban land would create a higher AGR than low value land in the Outer Hebrides. Land is separately valued from the property on it. The point is to tax only that which owes its value not to investment, labour or improvement; but only to a value that is dependent on location and critically, the investment of the whole community in services, population, infrastructure to which the owner has contributed nothing. The labour and investment that the owner expends on building or extending property on his site should not be taxed. AGR is the taxation of inertia. It will end the hoarding of derelict sites that are hidden in full view at no cost or tax by owners exploiting an opportunity given its value by the community.

        It may be helpful to look at the government websites of Denmark or New South Wales, bith of which have versions of AGR.

        • You’ve avoided my question. Land in the Outer Hebrides has low value. So a tax based on it would yield very little. Yet the cost of services such as bin collection are higher per household than in urban areas. So the Council would find itself unable to provide services based just on land value alone as this might be far lower than elsewhere. But a Band D council tax doesn’t vary that much across Scotland. A tax based on property would yield much the same per 1000 Band D properties across the country.

          To take the other extreme: a tenement in Edinburgh or Glasgow. The land the tenement is sitting on including its back green, is very high. But the owners of the block, maybe 8, maybe 15 or 16 of them, are most of them average to below average earners, paying Band D to Band F council tax, i.e. c.£1500-£2200 pa. They could end up paying substantially more.

          Income has to be taken into consideration.

          • Your tenement illustration is quite good in that the AGR might be “high”, but would be split 8 ways and is in effect a small area to tax. The householders might pay a LOT more AGR than council tax, but would pay vastly reduced income tax. Net effect would be more disposable income. Check out John’s link.

          • John S Warren

            The difference in Band D between different areas is perhaps higher than you appear to suggest. For ease of comparison I examined 2013-14 comparative tables (www.gov.scot/Resource/0042/00426740.xls). Band D for the Outer Hebrides (Eilean Siar) was £1,024: for Aberdeen City £1,230. Aberdeen is 20.1% higher.

            The principle of AGR is as follows: what is taxed should not be labour, investment or enterprise. What should be taxed is inertia; those increases in ‘value’ that are not the product of enterprise or labour, but are a product of what we may term the Public Good: a function of the community in which the site is located, which provides tthe increases in the site’s value (excluding the property), generated by location alone, and which are a function of the community’s people, activities, businesses, work, services and infrastructure (but not by the owner of the site). This means that in the longer term, once AGR is established it would seek to replace at in part or whole, Income Tax or Corporation Tax (taxes of labour and enterprise that are expensive to raise and easy to avoid or evade – except for PAYE, which of course turns a method of raising the tax into a penalty paid only by those trapped by it).

  7. Whatever the SNP decide on future taxation it has to be included in their election manifesto,even if only in outline form.
    I have totally had it with London governments making or reversing policy decisions which have never seen the light of day until it happens.
    Democracy it aint and we don’t want to replicate that system at Holyrood.
    Agree that we need a complete overhaul of a dogs breakfast of a taxation system designed to allow Chancers of the Exchequer to sneak things in through the old smoke and mirrors routine.
    Major decisions on taxation and spend must be part of the democratic scrutiny process and not just taken by a handful of unelected people (in Scotland’s case).

  8. I like the idea of the Council tax , and raising it , as many have said , its a simple tax , based on property value and the public understand it .

    Its also harder to “evade ” , as houses don’t move , and their inexorable increasing value is a national obsession .

    Them with the biggest houses , most valuable will pay more on a sliding scale , and it exposes a whole host of folk , who hide under the radar of the £11k a year tax allowance , who avoid income tax , yet manage to have a house worth 300k + as many of my friends do

    . Many are early retired , or working part time , mortgages paid , with a few houses bought and sold over the years , sitting pretty .

    True it may inconvenience them a tad , but if it’s too much they can let a room out , take in a lodger , or sell up and trade down . (all activities that are good for economic activity )

    I agree also that the reforms are a tad “weak ” , and wonder thus , The SNP are sittng on 60% in the polls , they garnered 50% of the vote in the GE in May , barely put a foot wrong in 9 years ?

    Yet everything is softly softly , don’t scare the horses , I wonder , if we can’t have any great reforms on 50% of the vote , then when can we have them ? do we need 80% ?

    Are there examples in Western democracy of parties sitting on such large majorities so timidly ?

    ( I am guessing most of Europe is run by various coalitions (Greece , Ireland , Germany )

    Margaret Thatcher , had 42% of the vote , when she started dismantling the industrial base , Tony Blair had 35% of the vote when we went to War in Iraq

    (all odious things , met with fierce opposition ) I just think the SNP are never going to have a majority big enough to grasp the nettle .

    • And in which of those countries – or indeed in any country – does the alternative governing party/coalition/hopeful advocate that they are governed by an imperial power?

      • It will ever be so .
        I am not sure what point you are trying to make , ” We can’t reform our council tax system (and improve public services ) , because opposition parties in our parliament , support the Union ? ” .

        They are not “in ” power .

  9. Astute politics before radical reform? Can’t honestly say I’m surprised and most especially not from a by now well documented gradualist party of government. However as has been seen from the the land reform chapter, also a government not afraid to revisit a policy at a later date and go further when required.

    I also suspect the gradualist and cautious nature of the SNP would possibly be looking to a fully empowered parliament before more radical reforms in tax structure were tackled, though that is a personal assumption, it would seem in keeping with their nature. Until that time I’d look for more of the astute politics and gradual reform approach.

  10. I never fell for the ‘land’ tax myth. The countries that have a ‘land tax’ dont use iland as a basis for domestic properties at all. (Re Denmark)

    This is a step in the right direction without taxing worthless assets as if they are the crown jewels.

  11. Steve Asaneilean

    Scotland has 19 million acres of land, all of it owned by someone. It cannot be taken out of Scotland or hidden away somewhere.

    Taxed at £100 per acre or part thereof of would raise at least £1.9 billion per annum – similar to the amount currently raised by Council Tax.

    Every single home owner would pay at least £100 – and for the vast majority that’s all they would pay.

    But the Duke of Buccleuch would be facing a bill of £24 million and the Crown Estate £3.7 million.

    There would have to be some rebate for land under crop or essential grazing. There might also be a rebate for community owned land – although I am less inclined to support that on the basis you should not have land ownership without responsibility.

    There would be no exemption for “sporting estates”.

    And the tax could be raised by £1 or £2 per acre each year.

    Of course this idea is full of holes – but no more so than any other forms of local taxation.

    What’s the cast iron better alternative?

  12. What about the water charges while we are at it? The average bill in Englandshire seems to be about £390 a household. A band D in my council will pay about £420, but a band H will be hit for £800.

    My experience of Scottish Water does not lead me to have a favourable opinion of them, but I cant see how fair it is to base water charges on notional rentals. A family of 5 will use more than a single pensioner. .

    A sizeable chunk of the tax borne is water charges.

    • In England water charges are separate from council tax. So students only receive the rebate in England from the c’tax, not the water charges. But in Scotland they are both lumped together so students (and their landlords) are exempt.

  13. I have supported the independence movement since before most of the SNP Holyrood and Westminster representatives were born and have not always agreed with SNP policy. Yesterday’s announcement on council tax excelled other SNP attempts to drive me to support another party; it was weak and unimaginative tinkering, pandering only to the sprawling estates around our larger cities.

    The revaluation of domestic properties in 1993 was rushed and often wrong. Nothing has been done to correct this. the idea that all bands above D should bear a greater share of the local taxation bill is regressive. Nothing has been done to deal with the top band which includes houses in Morningside and Marchmont alongside Balmoral and Buck House.

    Claims were made that pensioners would be protected but it turns out that means only the impecunious. It is very common today for pensioners to have more than £16,000 capital but still be concerned about a £2 a week tax increase.

    No attempt has been made to deal with the valuation methodology which attempts to split bands outwith democratic control. Judges will still appoint tribunals and the so called independent assessors will still decide who pays what with no political control whatsoever.

    Property will always attract some form of taxation because it is easy to collect. What we need is a fair way to allocate the share of the taxation pot and that is most decidedly not council tax which was only introduced to avoid reintroducing rates after the failed Tory imposition of Poll Tax.

  14. Real politick, pragmatism, a tad safe maybe … but let’s not argue. We have a government in Holyrood which 60% trust – and that is precious in a world where trust is in such short supply. Let’s win big in May, and then let all opinions be given air time. For me, taxation has been less about the assets which are built on a site, more about the ‘Land Use’. The land, the ground below, the air above, the rivers, lochs and our seas must belong to the ‘people’ and surely a tax based on their use could be equitable, easy to understand and inexpensive to collect.
    After the Election I will be looking for a serious look into such an option.

  15. This is not what I voted for independence for. Timidity dressed up as pragmatism. The Council Tax is the most iniquitous tax since the hated poll tax it was dreamt up by the Tories to replace 25 years ago, and it has been left largely untouched by successive governments. There are 2 salient issues here. First, its breath-taking unfairness, hitting the poorest hardest. It doesn’t take mathematical genius to calculate that those at the top of the food chain pay roughly 1 – 2% of their income to pay it while those at the other end pay upwards of 10%. Those who can least afford it are suffering disproportionately, and yet I hear people saying wait till we get back into power and we’ll do something. How many times have we heard that before ? How long do they need ? They’ve been in power for 10 years. People are suffering now and have been for decades because of this tax, and the SNP government has no sense of urgency. They claim to have had ‘consultations’ about this, but you have to wonder, do they ever listen to ordinary people ? The second point is this : the tax simply doesn’t bring in enough money when it could. To charge millionaires and extra £500 a year, as the SNP government proposes to do, is laughable. That Edinburgh City Council, which services one of the wealthiest cities in Europe, both in terms of its wealthy ‘professional’ class and its corporate wealth, should be so strapped for cash, even allowing for a measure of incompetence and corruption, beggars belief. The tax should be scrapped and rebuilt from the bottom up, based on ability to pay, mainly income-based according to Inland Revenue figures, plus property ownership, much as councils currently calculate how much an individual is required to pay towards the cost of going into care. This way, far more money will be collected. Finally, the SNP’s control-freakery of freezing the Council Tax is an affront to local democracy, a short-term populist measure completely failing to address both the above issues and serving only to conceal their bankruptcy of ideas and further their own dubious ends.

  16. https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/3600/campaigner-raises-concerns-over-44-of-scots-council-tax-revenues-spent-on-loan-interest

    The council tax freeze has had its day!

    Just think, there are councils whose entire tax take is absorbed by debt! Remember Gordon Brown’s PFI obsession?

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