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Historic plans for property taxation system

Plans for a new system of property taxation have been set out in what is a historic first for Scotland.

Finance Secretary John Swinney has put forward legislation for a tax to replace stamp duty on property sales.

It is the first time a Bill has been introduced that will allow the Scottish Parliament to both set and collect a proportion of its revenue. The move would see existing stamp duty charges replaced with a more "proportional and progressive structure".

Isobel d'Inverno, convener of the Law Society of Scotland's tax law sub-committee, said: "We welcome the simplified drafting of the Bill using Scots law terminology and reflecting Scottish conveyancing practice and we are particularly pleased to see that the Bill replaces the existing 'slab and slice' system of payment with progressive rates."

However, high-end estate agents claim it could damage the market for houses valued at more than £300,000.

Andrew Smith, a partner with Strutt & Parker, said: "To a buyer, the only figure that counts is the total amount which has to be paid for a property and if a larger proportion is going to go on tax it is only logical the seller will receive less or lose the buyer to a lower price bracket."

It is proposed that the new land and building transactions tax will come into force from April 2015.

Mr Swinney said it was an "innovative approach to taxation" that would be more progressive than stamp duty.

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