Land Value Tax - Greens back pick and mix taxes for Councils

For immediate release 4 October 2010

Local councils could be given a choice of taxes to use, the Green MSPs today suggested, following the publication today of a report on Land Value Tax by Andy Wightman. Land Value Tax remains the Greens' preferred alternative to Council Tax or Local Income Tax, but the party today proposes a radical devolution of power to local government, allowing councils to choose from a mix of taxes instead of simply switching from one universal model to another.

The only limit would be a requirement for each local authority to use an element of one tax on property, including land value tax, in order to be able to receive UK Government funding in the form of Council Tax Benefit - the restriction in law states simply that this benefit is payable towards a property tax defined by Scottish Ministers as Council Tax (see below).

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"From the rates to the poll tax and the council tax, local government taxation has been a source of endless political problems. A universal tax is introduced, it quickly becomes unpopular, the parties divide on what should replace it, entire national elections are fought over it, and eventually a new universal tax is introduced and the same set of problems immediately start all over again.

"Although I would prefer to see a Scotland-wide land value tax instead of council tax and business rates, the reality is that the Scottish Parliament has been unable to agree a new system this session. It's time we trusted local voters and local authorities to decide. If they want to use a mix of land value tax and a local income tax, they should be able to do so. Perhaps councils could choose a local sales tax combined with a property value tax. Parliament can draw up the menu and then councils can pick'n'mix from it to meet local needs."

"A Land Value Tax for Scotland: Fair, Efficient, Sustainable" is available online here.

For the rules on Council Tax Benefit, see Section 72.4 of the Local Government Finance Act (1992).