Reform Scotland has released a research briefing on local taxation to coincide with its submissions to the Scottish Government / COSLA Commission on Local Tax Reform, and the Conservatives’ Independent Commission for Competitive and Fair Taxation in Scotland.
The briefing – Localising Local Tax – says that local authorities in Scotland have had no real control over their own tax income for the last eight years, and criticises any plan to replace one centrally-controlled local tax with another, such as a centrally-set local income tax.
Instead, Reform Scotland has called for local authorities to have complete control over the local taxes of Council Tax and Non-Domestic Rates (NDR), including the ability to alter their rate to meet local needs.
Furthermore, the think tank has proposed that local authorities be allowed to scrap Council Tax and NDR, if they deem it appropriate, and replace them with a range of other taxes such as land value taxes, sales taxes and other property taxes.
Commenting, Reform Scotland’s Director Geoff Mawdsley said:
“Devolution was never supposed to stop at Holyrood. However, Holyrood has reduced control in some areas that used to be local authority responsibilities, and one of those is local taxation.
“Scotland is significantly behind other similarly-sized countries in the area of local devolution. The Scandinavian countries, for instance, have far more tax income controlled at a local level. Restoring genuine local fiscal responsibility should be our aim.
“Our local authorities have become powerless to make a real difference to their local communities because they have no real control over the amount of money they tax and spend. It is time to give them the ability to make a difference, and the starting point on the road to genuine local fiscal responsibility is to give councils complete control over Council Tax and Business Rates.”