• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Swinney unveils plans for new Scottish property tax

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

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.

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

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

Under that system, those buying a property for £125,000 or more are charged between 1% and 7% of the amount they have paid, depending on the price.

Under stamp duty's "slab" system, if a property is just above the threshold for a higher rate of duty, this is applied to the total sum.

Stamp duty is applied at 1% for properties costing between £125,000 and £250,000 and 3% on those sold for £250,000 to £500,000. This means that if a house is sold for £260,000, the buyer must pay 3% of the whole amount, a total of £7,800, while for a house costing £240,000, the charge is just 1% (£2,400).

Documents lodged with the Land and Building Transactions Tax (Scotland) Bill reveal that the Scottish Government "plans to replace this with a proportional progressive structure, which includes a nil rate band and at least two other bands".

The SNP administration also proposes that only the proportion of the price above the threshold is liable to the higher rate of tax.

As a result, ministers believe this "progressive structure will be more proportionate to the ability to pay and will remove the distortion in prices at the thresholds".

Almost three-quarters of those who responded to a Scottish Government consultation on the issue support the move to a progressive tax regime for residential properties.

The Scottish Government has not yet determined what the actual tax rates and bands will be, with these to be set nearer to April 2015 when the new tax comes into force.

But ministers have already consulted on the possibility of raising the threshold up to which people pay no charge, from £125,000 in the existing system to £180,000, which could help first-time buyers.

Revenue Scotland, the new tax body being set up, will work with Registers of Scotland on the collection of the charge.

Mr Swinney said: "Today we take a further step toward setting and collecting of taxes in Scotland and doing so better and at less cost than the UK Government. In this Bill we are setting out an innovative approach to taxation that is much better aligned with Scots law and practices, and the principle of progressive taxation.

"The changes we are proposing would give us the opportunity to better support first-time buyers trying to get onto the housing ladder or families buying bigger homes that better suit their needs. Rather than the current distortive slab approach which sees people pay too much tax and distorts the market, we will ensure that taxpayers pay an amount more proportionate to the value of their property.

"The approach I am outlining today represents a strong foundation for the future. This Government's approach to taxation is founded on Scottish principles that have stood the test of time since the days of Adam Smith.

"Taxation should be proportionate. Taxpayers should have certainty about what they should pay. It should be convenient and it should be efficient.

"Our tax system will meet the needs of a modern, 21st-century Scotland, grounded on solid foundations and delivering sustainable economic growth."

Contextual targeting label: 
Business

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

128829