The finances of central and local government are stretched due to a combination of elevated levels of inflation, weak economic growth, and greater outlays on public sector pay, services and benefits.

Households and businesses are feeling the pinch too, which is why debates about new taxes and charges have taken on a greater salience.

The furore over Glasgow’s low emission zone charges and the alarm in some quarters about the tourism visitor levy are topical examples. However, the increased focus on local taxation is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon.

There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, MSPs have legislated to allow local authorities to introduce workplace parking levies. It remains to be seen which councils if any will put this into practice, with Edinburgh reputedly keen. It would be levied on firms and come on top of the business rates that companies already pay on these parking spaces provided for staff.

Secondly, councils are to be permitted to double the council tax levied on second homes and  ministers are consulting on increasing the council tax multiplier for properties in bands E to H. This latter move could potentially take £176 million annually in tax revenue from those impacted.

Thirdly, the Scottish Government’s Framework for Tax promised to explore a new rates levy on commercial premises where the owner is registered in a tax haven. I suspect this will have little bearing on retail but it may for other sectors.

Over and above this the Bute House Accord, which brought Green Party MSPs into government, includes a commitment to look at replacing council tax entirely. It’s unclear whether any replacement would generate more or less revenue, what its impact might be on household finances, or indeed whether there might be administrative implications for employers from any replacement tax as was the case with the aborted Local Income Tax.

What is perhaps less well known is that our major political parties all seem to be edging towards coalescing around extending the revenue raising and tax powers of local government. The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, the Scottish Conservatives’ Grasping the Thistle economic paper, and Scottish Labour’s Empowering Communities document each alights on this.

The outcome of all of this and the nature and scope of any extra taxes that councils may be permitted to levy remains to be seen.

It’s possible the Scottish Government’s new Tax Advisory Group could be tasked with looking at options. In recent weeks the deputy leader of Glasgow City Council has called for the ability to levy a congestion charge.

With the main political parties seemingly saying similar things on localism perhaps a degree of coherence will finally be brought to policy thinking in this space, rather than the ad hoc sticking plaster approach pursued thus far.

However, allowing local authorities to set extra taxes and charges won’t be without its challenges for those who ultimately pay the bills.

Many of our members have a store presence in Northern Ireland, where local authorities set the business rate. The precedent isn’t encouraging. Business rates in Northern Ireland are significantly higher than in Scotland. Northern Ireland’s councils brought in a bumper increase this spring which if replicated here in Scotland would have seen retailers alone forking out an extra £49 million in business rates this financial year.

Businesses need to be alive to this emerging debate on local taxation because of the potential impact on their own operating costs but also because of what it might mean for their customers’ disposable incomes.

A kaleidoscope of differing and fragmented local taxes and charges may well enhance local government accountability and help plug the gaps in local government finances. However, the flip side is it would undoubtedly add complexity and cost to the operations of businesses and make budgeting trickier. It’s also far from clear the needs of the economy would be factored into decisions.

David Lonsdale is director of Scottish Retail Consortium