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Threat to end tax breaks and 'cosy deals' for landowners

SCOTTISH landowners may face an end to all tax exemptions, subsidies and "cosy tax deals" unless they are shown to be in the public interest, MPs have warned.

Members of the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee are also calling on the Scottish and UK Governments to give priority to improving information to the public on who owns Scotland's land.

In an interim report, he said the issue was a "legitimate political interest."

Committee chairman, Glasgow Labour MP Ian Davidson said: "Land information on Scotland should be at least the same quality as that in Latvia, Georgia and Denmark."

He said no government with any pretensions to land reform could avoid the need for clear information on its existing ownership patterns to be widely available.

He added: "This must include beneficial ownership, to prevent owners hiding behind front companies, trusts or in tax havens."

The MPs said the evidence suggested that government policy on inheritance tax, business property relief, agricultural property subsidies, and non-domestic rates helped preserve inherited wealth in landed estates.

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: "Public interest is exactly why these incentives have been put in place by successive governments.

"We do not believe there is a culture of secrecy in terms of land-ownership in Scotland."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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