A NEW hybrid local tax, based on both property and income, looks certain to be among the recommendations of a government-backed commission after a survey revealed strong support for sweeping reforms of council tax.

More than half of those who gave their views said local taxes should be based on income.

A hybrid tax, combining elements of the existing property-based council tax and a local income tax, emerged as the "most frequently-mentioned" option when respondents were asked how the present system should be changed.

More people also wanted local taxes to be set by councils rather than centrally, by the Scottish Government.

The findings emerged in survey conducted by the Commission on Local Tax Reform, the cross-party body set up by the Scottish Government and local authority umbrella group COSLA to examine alternatives to the council tax.

The commission is expected to deliver its final report within the next fortnight.

It will present a range of options for political parties to draw on when they prepare their manifestos for next May's Holyrood election.

The survey findings follow an expert report for the commission in August, which concluded a hybrid property and income tax had "merit".

The survey was not a formal opinion poll based on a representative sample of Scots but nearly 4500 people filled in the online questionnaire and Marco Biagi, the local government minister, said it would add "weight and credibility" to the commission's final report.

The present council tax, based on property values, raises £2.3billion annually for Scotland's 32 local authorities.

However the government-imposed council tax freeze, now in its eighth year, has starved town halls of cash and prompted ever louder calls for a root and branch reform of the system.

The idea of a local income tax polarised opinion, the survey showed, with 20 per cent of respondents totally opposed and 37 per cent fully supportive.

However, the balance of the those with less firm views was in favour of an income-based system.

The commission's analysis of the survey said almost half the respondents wanted to change the basis of local tax, when they were asked about possible alternatives.

The analysis added: "A hybrid tax was the most frequently mentioned of these options, with many supporting a mix of tax based on property, land, wealth and income

"The most commonly suggested change to the existing council tax system was a review of the current bands."

While large numbers of people felt council tax was unfair, the survey found it was simple and easy to understand.

Mr Biagi, who co-chairs the commission, said: “There is clear consensus from those that we have heard from – whether through this survey, our call for evidence and the public events that have taken place - that the current system of council tax, while highly visible, is in urgent need of reform.

“Ensuring that as many people as possible have had the opportunity to engage in our work will add weight and credibility to our findings when we report.”

Clr David O’Neill, president of COSLA and the commission's other co-chairman added: “The views of those who have responded to our online survey will have a great deal of resonance as we formalise our findings."

In his report for the commission earlier this year, housing expert Professor Kenneth Gibb, of Glasgow University, said it was "odd" for Scotland to have only one form of local tax when many countries levy multiple taxes to fund local services.

He made the case for a "property tax and supplementary income tax approach," arguing it could combine advantages from both systems.

The SNP was forced to shelved plans to replace council tax with a local income tax in 2009 after it emerged its proposal for a centrally-set 3p in the £1 levy would blow a huge financial black hole in council coffers.