Tag Archives: council tax

SNP’s Council Tax reform: timid, unfair and ill-thought through

Back in December, the Local Tax Commission in Scotland published its report which looked at various ways of raising local taxes. Political parties were urged to bring forward their own proposals. Scottish Conference had a consultation on a well-researched and thorough document. An indicative vote at the end favoured a progressive, fair property and land based tax, which, if formally adopted, would replace our proposal for a local income tax.

The basic principles that you would expect from a local tax is that it’s fair, progressive and takes into account the ability to pay. I have to say I’m not entirely sold on the idea of a property tax, although I can see the arguments for taxing property as opposed to income.  The proposals outlined in the Scottish Lib Dems’ policy document do mean that those in the least valuable properties paying significantly less.

The SNP announced their preferred solution yesterday. They have the choice of so many new powers and all they did was tinker at the edges, putting up the rate for the four highest bands.  Is this really the best they can come up with, embedding the inherent unfairness of the Council Tax yet further?

Let’s look at my street as an example. Under the SNP’s plan, a professional couple in a band D house earning two substantial incomes would pay no more yet a family in a slightly larger property up the street with one worker on a much lower income would pay more. That doesn’t make sense. There has to be a way to deal with that sort of anomaly.

Secondly, the Council Tax is based on property values that, by 2021, will be 30 years old. This is not the fundamental reform that the SNP promised. 

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Opinion: Council tax reform is better than the Mansion Tax

The November 2014 AdLib makes interesting reading. Amongst other issues, it set me thinking about the Mansion Tax. It is axiomatic of any decent society that those most able to pay should contribute the greatest amount towards the cost of maintaining it; especially in respect of social costs.

This seems to be an unpopular concept with many on the right of politics, who would presumably see themselves as paying more; while those on the left may be tempted to adopt it as an unthinking mantra, without considering the practical implications. Nevertheless, we must find fair ways of making the better off pay their fair share.

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David Cameron poaches Lib Dem tax-cuts idea. (But that’s not half as annoying as the Tory ideas my party’s trying to claim.)

It’s amazing how much more popular with David Cameron the Lib Dems’ flagship policy of taking the low-paid out of income tax is these days… Just today he celebrated delivering an income tax cut for 25 million people and lifting 2.4 million low earners out of tax:

It’s all a bit of a contrast from the first 2010 televised leaders’ debate, when David Cameron argued the policy was unaffordable… unlike the Tories’ own proposals for raising the inheritance tax threshold to £1m or tax breaks for married couples, of course.

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Opinion: Why do the government tax people on the value of their home?

View from Launceston CastleI am not a politician or economist, nor am I some great thinker of our age. I am just a normal man, single, living in rented accommodation, in a well-paid job, for my part of the world. Yet I still have to rent out my second bedroom to afford normal things like the internet, satellite TV and the occasional visit to a good restaurant. I have to pay out £830 a month just for my Council Tax, rent, petrol and energy before I even eat, let alone pay for the internet or satellite TV!

Posted in Op-eds | 40 Comments

There should be far more rebellions like the one yesterday

A brief footnote to Stephen’s piece yesterday Government suffers defeat in Lords over ‘new poll tax’ changes to council tax benefits. Note what the rebellion was over:

An independent review of the changes to be carried out within three years of them being introduced.

Yup, that shocking idea that after a new policy is introduced, we should leave it a little while and then someone should go and take a look how

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Government suffers defeat in Lords over ‘new poll tax’ changes to council tax benefits

The Government has suffered a defeat today on changes to the system of paying council tax benefit. As part of the Coalition’s existing welfare cuts, council tax relief is being reduced and local authorities are being given the power to set their own eligibility criteria from April 2013. As the Financial Times reported last week:

The coalition has earmarked £100m for councils that promise to limit the sums poorer people must pay to around 8.5 per cent of the full council tax rate – less than half what some local authorities are considering. … Lord Best, president of the Local Government Association, will on Tuesday propose an amendment

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News snippets from the Conservative conference: tax, Europe, migration and more

Conservative Party logoTrouble ahead on tax as Osborne opposes a mansion tax:

We are not going to have a mansion tax, or a new tax that is a percentage value of people’s properties.

Before you rush to spot the loophole in that – what about adding extra higher bands to Council Tax? – he opposed that too. Given Osborne made much of his reputation as was by opposing changes to inheritance tax, perhaps it is on capital gains tax that there will be room fro an agreement with the …

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