SNP local income tax plan may encourage tax dodgers

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SNP plans for a local income tax could backfire and allow rich tax dogers to wriggle out of paying, a group of leading experts have warned today.

The newly formed the Scottish Property Tax Reform (SPTR) says a property-based regime should instead be introduced to replace the “unfair” council tax.

The SNP Government has frozen the council tax for the past eight years. Ministers have launched a Commission into an alternative system and favour a local income tax.

The new organisation says this could allow wealthy Scots to avoid paying - but they can’t escape the value of their property.

Professor Mark Stephens, who is the convenor of the new group said: “The Council Tax is unfair, but politicians have been reluctant to reform it. It is based on property values that are almost a quarter of a century out of date.

“It is now so discredited that it has been frozen for years and this is undermining local democracy in Scotland.”

The Heriot Watt University academic added: “Property taxes are very difficult for wealthy individuals to evade for the simple reason that, by their very nature, houses cannot be moved abroad.”

There has been no “evaluation” of the council tax for the past 25 years meaning it is based on decades-old property values. Prof Stephen said a new property based tax should be evaluated at least every five years and possibly annually on an automatic basis.

The group includes the respect land reform author Andy Wightman, as well as academics such as Andy Wightman (Author and Land Activist), Professor Richard Kerley (Queen Margaret University), Professor Ken Gibb (Glasgow University) and Professor Jim Gallagher (Nuffield College, Oxford).