Commission on council tax alternatives calls for evidence

council tax bill Image copyright PA

A commission looking at the future of local taxation in Scotland is calling for evidence.

The group, set up by the Scottish government, is examining possible alternatives to the council tax.

The tax raises around £2bn a year but most council cash comes from the Scottish government.

There is also a short online questionnaire on the Commission on Local Tax Reform's website.

The commission is co-chaired by the local government minister Marco Biagi and the president of council body COSLA, councillor David O'Neill.

It is expected to report by the autumn, in advance of next May's Scottish election.

The council tax typically raises about 20p of every pound each of Scotland's 32 councils spend. It was introduced in 1993 to replace the community charge or "poll tax".

Since 2007, the council tax has remained frozen.

Amongst the ideas which could potentially be examined are:

  • Replacing the council tax with a local income tax.
  • Reforming the council tax - for instance by including more property bands.
  • A land value tax.
  • Whether councils could be responsible for raising more of their budgets - perhaps using a number of different forms of taxation.

Marco Biagi said: "Nearly every household in Scotland is liable for council tax, but nobody has ever asked the public how they might best contribute to the funding of public services."

Councillor O'Neill added: "Today we have started a process to find out what it would take to develop a better system of local taxation in Scotland. There is a lot to play for and that's why we are asking new questions about what happens now and what the future might be."

The 13-strong commission includes representatives from all the main political parties other than the Conservatives who chose not to take part.

Formal evidence has to be submitted by 22 June.

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