Comments for en-gb 30 Wed 23 Jul 2014 01:52:34 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at dennisjunior1 Brian:Surviving summer>>I think that enjoy your enjoy that time; and, get the rest they need....~Dennis Junior~ Sun 28 Dec 2008 06:31:06 GMT+1 william1957 Brian,Some of this morning's papers carried an interesting piece on Annabel Goldie's contribution to this debate. Apparently the Scottish Tories would use money earmarked to make up the shortfall in LIT to give Council Tax payers a rebate.Hmmm, let me think. What's better? LIT that narrows the tax base, and does not raise all the revenue required by local government and requires subsidy, or the present set up with a wider tax base, where contributions could be cut with money the present Executive may earmark to make up the shortfall in LIT.As our American cousins say it is a "no brainer" - go figure.Best Wishes,William1957. Fri 12 Sep 2008 08:07:56 GMT+1 Anglophone Superficially, income tax is always preferable to other mechanisms as it reflects the "ability to pay". The devil of course lies in the detail as admirably pointed out by many contributors on this pageMy suspicion is that this is not intended to come into effect at any time soon. Rather it is just another of Wee Alec's stunts to pick a synthetic fight with central government over "our money" and the refusal of the wicked Treasury to hand it over to AS so that he can ride through the streets distributing alms to the poor and needy.I find the notion put about in no 31 by the Forfarian (my favourite no-hoper football teams by the way) that LIT will succeed due to the moral superiority of Scots in their willingness to pay more tax to benefit the less well off rather funny. Presumably the horrid English who are content to leave widows and orphans starving in the street, never have such altruistic ideas.I will readilly admit to earning a good (though not large) income and I am very aware of my responsibility to wider society to which I contribute via 40% top rate tax and what appears to be a Band Z Council Tax bill. I am more than happy to do this in the name of fairness. The question however is when does a "fair" contribution become "being played for a fool"...3 times average contribution...7 times...20 times? How much extra contribution should one person have to make to cover the shortfall from the less well off or non-payers? Wed 10 Sep 2008 12:07:36 GMT+1 Vinanglais Brian, Local income tax, just another SNP attempt to differentiate Scotland a part of Britain from the rest of the country and what a minefield they are stepping into. Do they remember the poll tax, not the original one but when Thatcher tried this, this would be a far worse version. 3p in the pound could result in very high bills for many voters and the SNP already in a minority position would be consigned to opposition. The other part they seem to have overlooked is that folks will enhance their tax avoidance measures to lower their tax bills and certainly central UK government will come first in the revenue queue leaving the SNP with a serious hole in their budget, after all right now the money is collected in Scotland by local authorities, income tax is a central function and the money won't go direct into the bank account. If it ain't broke don't fix it they sometimes say, move the goalposts on benefits to help balance the burden between well off and less well off, anything else will surely lead to trouble.Paul Fri 05 Sep 2008 13:06:26 GMT+1 funkiestmunky These plans are flawed for a number of reasons.This is not a local tax, nor can it be. HMRC are only committed under the Scotland Act to collect one varied rate for taxpayers residing in Scotland.3% across Scottish taxpayers who would be eligible does not cover the current Council Tax funding. Where will the additional funding come from and cuts be made? As council running costs increase (and tax revenues are likely to fall if we enter a recession) how can this 3% be added to? The Scottish Government cannot increase the % as it will be fully utlising the 3% variation it has in it's power under the Scotland Act.If I register my taxable in England but have properties in Scotland surely I won't pay. How will this be managed to avoid tax evasion.The change would mean middle income families would be hardest hit. For example, a tax-paying child still living with parents would all pay 3% of their incomes - this surely doesn't reflect the shared services the family receive at one property (rubbish collection, use the same local ammenities etc).I could go on.... but as I am happy to continue paying my English Council Tax which would leave me better off (though I do think rebanding and improvemens could take place) I won't. Thu 04 Sep 2008 22:33:28 GMT+1 tuairimiocht "I don't think you grasp the concept of working hard for a living!!"Irrelevant and untrue."Why should someone on a high salary who has worked hard to get that high salary be forced to pay more for the same services as someone on benefits who chooses to be on benefits."Because of the marginal utility of money. One hundred pounds is less useful to a millionaire than to someone on the minimum wage. That is the basis of progressive taxation.Moreover, the notion that council tax is a charge for local services is a bit of a myth really. Council tax is a tax, not a charge for services used. People without children pay council tax which funds schools that they may never avail of. Likewise, council-taxpayers might never use any of the social services they fund. This seems very similar to the principle on which income tax is based, suggesting that council tax and income tax be viewed in the same light. Thu 04 Sep 2008 17:06:29 GMT+1 one step beyond Re post 149, at the risk of this becoming a love in, you are spot on. What services are going to be reuduced to provide the 280m shortfall Thu 04 Sep 2008 13:31:10 GMT+1 northhighlander Re 127 jordanbassetGood post there are other loopholes that needlooked at as well.If the tax is levied at a uniform rate over all of Scotland than those of who live in areas away from the central belt will subsidise services for those who live in the central belt, as these areas have greater levels of public services costing more. The collection scheme for water and sewage bills will need to be only for water and sewage as opposed to the current share with local government. This must be less efficient and more costly.In addition why does it not matter that people don't pay for water and sewage based on their ability to pay?Also where is the 280m shortfall coming form? El presidente waxed lyrical about embezzlers and all the rest yesterday but could not answer this basic question. Which services are to be cut to pay for this "tax cut"I think the level of detail shown yesterday indicated that this debate is not about seriously replacing the council tax it is about playing political games . This half baked idea will never happen, Salmond knows that he is just playing a shameful game of politics to further his independence aims. Thu 04 Sep 2008 12:51:49 GMT+1 noblewilliamw The "LTI" is just more political double speak. I wholeheartedly agree with those who point out that there is nothing "local" about it. It is a Scottish nation wide tax plain and simple.It is presented as a solution to the Poll Tax but in reality it is nothing more that an attempt to exercise the right under devolution to vary the rate of INCOME tax by 3%. (Remember this from the devolution election material!) Thu 04 Sep 2008 12:14:43 GMT+1 darwinsmonkey Well according to the calculation (see #26) I'll have to pay 50% more as a middle income earner who has dependents who don't live with me and owns a tiny property in an impoverished region of Glasgow. Time to retire or move to Berwick. Thu 04 Sep 2008 12:12:17 GMT+1 MannyGee #140My example was in fact how it works in Luxembourg, not Scotland.As regards poor areas in Scotland, this is where the 400m block grant comes in. It is currently there to compensate for the low earners. If the grant is still there then the poor areas receive a boost to their funding to make up for the shortfall in LIT Thu 04 Sep 2008 11:59:45 GMT+1 bingowings87 Let's not forget, the 400-odd million Council Tax Benefit that the SNP say they need to make this work, is needed IN PERPETUITY. So what happens come independence?? No CTB, so let me think....lets call it another 2p on the tax rate? "Stealth Tax", I think you call it.Besides, the principle of relying on CTB for me is wrong. When an unemployed person finds work, their benefits reduce since there is less need for them. So, if the SNP scrap the reason for CTB being needed, why do they feel entitled to claim it? The term "subsidy junkie" springs to mind.Finally....why do the SNP insist on calling this LIT? The very last thing it is, is Local. The SNP should stop treating the Scottish people like fools, and admit that their plan is deeply flawed and unsustainable. Thu 04 Sep 2008 11:58:21 GMT+1 MannyGee #139There is a census each year in which we declare how many people are living in the property, where you work, what you do, how much you earn etc. Then a few months later they send you your tax card for the year, you give this to your employer and that lets them know which tax bracket to put you in.I've been here 6 years, the first 4 renting and then bought a place 2 years ago. There's a property tax when you buy (although I was exempt as a first time buyer) but this is a one off tax.I've never had to pay an annual tax towards services, however, there are some services which we pay for such as water (there's a meter in the house to measure how much you use) and bins (this is calculated by weight apparently).Water and electricity are still run by the state and are included in a single bill, the bins are paid once per year by the company that manages the building (the residents pay a monthly fee to the management company to cover the bins, maintenance, heating etc.) Thu 04 Sep 2008 11:51:57 GMT+1 brigadierjohn Once people realise that "scrapping" a disliked tax actually means replacing it with another (which will come to be disliked) support for LIT will evaporate. When the penny drops that LIT won't raise enough to meet existing requirements, but will require increases in the costs of many other services, people will feel they've been conned.Gordon Brown has been rightly condemned for boasting about prosperity and prudence while imposing ever increasing "stealth" taxes. What stealth taxes will Salmond have to impose to replace the "missing" one-third of Council Tax revenue?LIT is being touted as a wonderful benefit for Scots and the end of Council Tax. But it seems we are talking about approximately 500 pounds a year for the beneficiaries, before the extra bills bite. Economical with the truth or what?At the end of the day it doesn't matter what you call a tax, or the basis of its imposition, it's the overall effect on people that counts.If it suddenly costs 20 quid for a hitherto free rubbish uplift, or five pounds to visit the baths, where is the overall benefit? As for the anomalies, it will take 20 years to sort them out.This proposal is a pig in a poke, and its only justification seems to be that when it collapses, as it must, Salmond can say: "See, the big bad Unionists did it and ran away." Thu 04 Sep 2008 11:33:25 GMT+1 william1957 Brian,One of the best blogs in ages, actually getting to grips with what is important in politics: money and who pays. Below are a few relatively unrelated points I would like to make. I think one of Neil Small's points @113 is worth considering: the water charges. If these are not included in the calculations we are not looking at a 3% charge, but 3% plus water charges makes things look a bit different. Add in second homes, no contribution from those whose income is derived from unearned sources, the unemployed, and those on sickness benefit, and this whole idea begins to look like a big hit on working families who are already struggling.In a similar vein, under LIT council incomes would only increase if salaries increased overall. The 3% limit puts a ceiling on the amount of tax that can be raised from the total earned income of the country’s workforce. If a recession occurs, this falls and lowers the amount available to councils just at the time when it is needed most, much like the situation national governments face in recession. If cuts in services are excluded, any shortfall would have to come from other areas of taxation such as on corporations, which would make Scotland a less likely candidate for inward investment, or additional taxes on private expenditure, such as sales taxes. My next point is this. The average family income in Scotland is around £53000. The average Council Tax is £1270. This means average Council Tax in Scotland is running at 2.4% of average joint family earnings. Those who support LIT claim it is fairer than Council Tax; not if these figures are correct. The SNP's present proposals would entail a 25% rise in average taxation towards Council Services while acknowledging the amount raised by LIT would not cover present expenditure without the additional £400 million from Westminster. I know using averages is not a good idea for detailed analysis, but if my figures are correct something does not add up with the SNP plans. Don’t get me wrong, I think the issue of how we finance our local services is important, but I think there are too many holes in the LIT proposal at present to make it viable without hitting working families harder than at present. In addition, I return to something I have raised in past blogs. For me the issue is not so much how we pay for our local services, but what local services are actually necessary, and what level of funding is required to support them. This gets lost every time the Council Tax/LIT debate starts.Best Wishes,William1957. Thu 04 Sep 2008 11:31:08 GMT+1 DunkyR #133And privatisation has really improved everything? I wouldn't say PFI really has benefited the health system. The problem with Privatisation is that it often involves PLcs where profits aren't automatically re-invested. I believe that Co-operatives do re-invest first and then take some profit. Would you say that the privatised railways, solution from the 90's, are really a good form of public transport? Using them regularly I have seen improvements but so much as a trickle that I can't see that investment in a regionalised national service wouldn't have done either. Generally:I always thought the council tax did pay for services and that LIT would also. Surely it could work along the same lines as if you paid council tax by DD. If there is a good form of LIT that works in Luxembourg maybe that should be adopted. The thing about 3% is that it is 3% for everybody so the impact is the same. Yes bigger earners pay more money but it will still only be 3%. But it should be up to councils to decide on what margins to use in their own districts as technically councillors should know their wards and know what would be reasonable % for their wards earners. The maths is probably problematic but not impossible and as soon as you can write a function in a programme you can calculate the amounts easily. Thu 04 Sep 2008 11:09:24 GMT+1 Bangingonabout #138You might want to read #137 and see what's implied. "Areas with high earners...will provide better services"....."Poorer areas won't have such good services"So areas with low earners don't get a library then, or maybe no social workers, or maybe some other provision that people require. Whereas areas with large earners, get swimming pools, leisure facilities, etc.MannyGee seems to have a very simplistic view of how councils in Scotland are structured and funded. Thu 04 Sep 2008 11:07:38 GMT+1 one step beyond Re post 131. I am aware Luxembourg is used as a tax refuge for many of the super rich and did have a tussle with the E.U. about witholding tax. But always thought tax in Luxembourg is payable for local services and vary between 0.7-1% per annum based on the official value of the property. Has this changed? Thu 04 Sep 2008 10:36:11 GMT+1 Dave McEwan Hill 131 Manny GeeExactly! Thu 04 Sep 2008 10:34:55 GMT+1 MannyGee #133. Aberdeenbill wrote:"Why should someone on a high salary who has worked hard to get that high salary be forced to pay more for the same services as someone on benefits who chooses to be on benefits. "People on high salaries tend to live in more affluent areas where most people are on higher salaries.People on low incomes tend to live in poorer areas where most people are on low incomes.The 3% you pay goes to your local council to pay for services. If you and the other people in your area are high earners, paying more than those in the poor areas, then your council will get more money and be able to provide better services.Poor areas, on the other hand, won't have such good services since there won't be as much money getting paid in LIT. Thu 04 Sep 2008 10:21:31 GMT+1 Bangingonabout #135I believe that some of these points have actually been made by the opposition parties in the past year in the parliament when the subject of LIT has been raised.They don't get answered. Just a load of bluster about "replacing the discredited Council Tax with a fairer system" Thu 04 Sep 2008 10:13:54 GMT+1 rabbiehippo 130 Who has been asking them those questions .... people on the news or just people on this blog ..... forgive me if ive missed something i dont watch much tv . Just because they havent answered doesnt mean that there are none. Thu 04 Sep 2008 09:54:15 GMT+1 rabbiehippo #132 Actually when the poll tax came out here i went to London to work .. i wont be doing that now. #131 maybe you can answer some of the questions that the non believers want to know. Thu 04 Sep 2008 09:52:00 GMT+1 Aberdeenbill TUAIRIMIOCHT:I don't think you grasp the concept of working hard for a living!! Why should someone on a high salary who has worked hard to get that high salary be forced to pay more for the same services as someone on benefits who chooses to be on benefits. I beleive the answer lies in privatisation of more services and that we all should pay as we use. Whats wrong in renting a library book instead of borrowing it. (It may get returned that way). There is nothing wrong with the council tax system but it does need refreshing.Mr Salmond still needs to get a life by the way!!!!Have you seen the size of his house in the country??? Thu 04 Sep 2008 09:34:25 GMT+1 one step beyond Re post 130, absolutely right.Re post 129 your blind confidence and or loyalty is amazing to me. Think back 20 years, the tories about to impose the poll tax on Scotland. A blog similar to this appears. People rightly point out the basic unfairness of it. The tory equivalent of you pops up and says ' how do you know the tories are oblivious to all these loop holes ...I doubt they are sitting with their fingers in their ears... the tories have a lot to lose if they mess up'Give me a break, the problems with the poll tax were obvious, as obvious as the problems with this ill thought out piece of electioneering Thu 04 Sep 2008 09:23:35 GMT+1 MannyGee I live in Luxembourg where we have pretty much the same system as LIT. We pay income tax and a share of that goes to your local commune (council) to pay for the services.When you get your wage, no extra tax to pay afterwards which is less hassle and less demoralising since you're only paying tax once off your wage.As a relatively high earner I will be contributing more than those on lower incomes. Do I grudge this? Not at all, the money goes to my local commune and pays for the local services. The more money the commune gets, the better the services they can provide, which for the record, are far superior in my experience to those provided anywhere I've lived in the UK.Branding LIT as unworkable is nonsense, other countries are using it and using it more successfully than the UK's implementation of Council Tax. Thu 04 Sep 2008 09:11:54 GMT+1 Bangingonabout #129They may have only announced the program yesterday but they've been talking about it since before the election.On the assumption that they had thought this through properly, I would have thought they would have answers to hand when issues like "What about second home owners?", "What about people who live in Scotland and work in England" and "What about wealthy people who pay no income tax" are raised.They don't seem to be answering these points so either:1) They didn't think about them2) They did think about them but think it doesn't matter. In which case I'd like an explanation as to why they don't matter. Thu 04 Sep 2008 08:41:03 GMT+1 rabbiehippo 127 how do you know the SNP are oblivious to all those loop holes you just pointed out ... they only just announced the program yesterday. I doubt they are sitting with their fingers in there ears ... the SNP has a lot to loose if they mess up ... unfortunately something Labour and the Tories seem to have gotten away with for years. Thu 04 Sep 2008 07:49:19 GMT+1 Older than the Pyramids If you want LIT to be simple to understand and simple to administer, there will naturally be anomalies.By the time it comes into force, as I am sure it will (if only so that the other parties can blame the SNP if it goes wrong and thereby hope to (re)gain power at the following election), there will doubtless be so many exceptions and exemptions that the Council Tax staff who would otherwise be redundant will probbly have to be augmented in number to make sense of it all.Unless we let the computers take over our world... Thu 04 Sep 2008 07:33:50 GMT+1 one step beyond I am surprised at some of the posts who gloss over anomalies and loop holes with phrases such as 'will be worked out before voting time'. Such confidence in the SNP is truly inspiring, wish I shared it.To recap the 'loopholes' are1. Second home owners will pay no tax on those homes. People will be aware the consternation that second home owners were only paying 90% of council tax on these homes. What will happen when they pay no tax at all. What will happen to the small rural communities whose children cannot afford to buy in the area when they see persons from outside Scotland snapping up these properties in the knowledge there is no council tax to pay.2. Those very rich people (non domicile status is the term I believe) who own very large proerties but do not pay income tax, but currently have to pay council tax. Will people really be happy about that.3. Those people who live in Scotland but work in England. They will not pay any tax in Scotland. This group is likely to increase with this incentive saving them around £1000 per year. 4. Conversely those living in England and working in Scotland will pay twice, is this fair?To dismiss these as anamolies that can be worked out is incredible to me. The SNP has not addressed dealing with these anamolies, they have even failed to recognise they exist. Talk about thinking up a plan on the back of a fag packet. If the proposals specifically addressed these points I would at least think the SNP considered the issues.The only way to sort out these anamolies would be to keep the dual process of council tax and LIT running. This would be incredibly expensive and in addition would need a small army of snoopers to work out which were second homes, whether people worked in England or Scotland etc. The lost revenue is not a small amount of money, as a previous post of mine pointed out it is £100 million just for second home owners. When you factor in non domiciles and Scottish rwesidents who work in England you could easily double that. That figure is likely to grow as people take advantage of this unfair tax system on the hard working people of Scotland. Thu 04 Sep 2008 07:10:08 GMT+1 Older than the Pyramids #117, British_Lion"Okay, the way I see it that means that the harder you work and the more money you make, the more you pay."... and the more money you make, the more more you keep.Like Income Tax itself, or indeed any of the very many taxes based on a simple percentage of income, expenditure, etc., the proportion you keep is unchanged. Thu 04 Sep 2008 05:17:01 GMT+1 rabbiehippo #122 That last bit ... you should make that the Uk government going by all the dodgy things ive heard about -Donnygate springs to mind Thu 04 Sep 2008 00:57:24 GMT+1 Alasdair_McGray Dark skies over Europe if Scotland does something different from England. We are all going to hell in a hand cart.All the unionists are united in one voice, that of Sergeant Fraser in Dad's Army. They see doom and gloom in everything and hanker back to the good old days of Jim C or Mrs T.The lack of confidence some Scots have in our own ability is the single biggest factor in our failure to progress and make our way in the world like other nations.The change to a fairer local income tax from the discredited council tax is a step in the right direction for Scots to gain self belief in their actions.This is the fundamental reason Scottish regional Labour is against the change, plus they did not have the imagination or bravery to come up with a policy that is fair and equitable. Regional Labour will oppose this at every turn, Bungler Brown taking a leading role no doubt.Well done SNP, lets hope you can garner votes from other parties for this exciting and meaningful change that will benefit those Scots less well off. Which party would you rather put a cross against in the referendum voting booth, a national party prepared to implement imaginative policies and places Scotland first or a regional party that wages illegal wars and places Scotland second? Wed 03 Sep 2008 23:56:50 GMT+1 Slithytove Council Tax revenue accounts for less than 25% of the total income that Councils receive. Even if the proposed LIT only raised two thirds of the income raised by the Council Tax, as some have claimed in comments above, then that would amount to a shortfall of around 7% in council budgets. That is still a significant shortfall, but it is hardly a deal-breaker when you consider that its an absolutely worst-case scenario. Wed 03 Sep 2008 23:03:01 GMT+1 enneffess 114. At 10:46pm on 03 Sep 2008, Jake-the-saltire wrote:If you don't want to pay taxes go away and live somewhere you don't have to pay and see what services you get.Fair comment. However, Councils need to be more efficient. Go past any Council headquarters at night and look at the amount of lights on.My own council is having to spend millions - again - on repairs to the local swimming pool. They MUST pay for these, since some numpty managed to get the pool classed as a Grade 2 listed building! The pool is about to close for over a year, and the repairs will not last more than 5-10 years. The Council is legally bound to fix the building, yet we now have a reduction in services but higher costs.One only has to look at Aberdeen to see how things can go wrong very quickly.Councils these days are very good at selling off land, but poor at maintaining what is left.Perhaps the Scottish Government could propose legislation to make council managers and leaders more accountable for decisions they make. Wed 03 Sep 2008 22:53:14 GMT+1 falkirkblues A LIT is a fairer system and knowing Alex salmond he is on a winner either way. The public overwhelmingly want Council Tax scrapped so there will be a LIT, if not the other parties WILL pay the price at the next election, wee Eck shrewd if nothing else Wed 03 Sep 2008 22:49:30 GMT+1 rabbiehippo Oldnat ...where are you .... if your struggling with some of the more complicated words in the Scottish Governments Program ill help you out ;)} Wed 03 Sep 2008 22:47:26 GMT+1 rabbiehippo I doubt if any of the anti LIT bloggers will have thought about it but .... if i were in government and had just released my manifesto for the next year, id be checking out blogs like these to see what feedback there is. I agree with 79 in that Alex is a lot cleverer than most give him credit for and some of the points suggested here will be worked on before voting time . #65 lol Kellogs Cornflakes ... brilliant. Wed 03 Sep 2008 22:43:06 GMT+1 Ben_Lomond Another year, another First Minster's statement on his government's legislative programme. Another lesson in how limited are the powers of the Scottish Parliament under the present devolution arrangements. Every time there is such a statement there is in effect a display of just how short and how tight is the leash, how limited the scope for action, how far we are from freedom of action.A bold and competent administration such as the present Scottish Government shows us how much more can be done by our parliament and government if we return the SNP to power with a majority at the next Holyrood elections and increase SNP representation at Westminster to press for greater powers for the Scottish Parliament. Plainly we would have self-government worthy of the name, either inside or outside the UK, if our government had the freedom to tax and borrow that even the provincial governments of Canada enjoy. In an economic crisis such as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has recently described, our government desperately needs those powers to protect and stimulate our economy. Without those powers we are subject to the failings of a remote government in London which has lost the confidence of both England and Scotland and which is demonstrating nothing more ably than a capacity for making the economic situation worse rather than improving it.It is at least comforting to know that the party which is most capable of making the most of the limited powers that Labour's devolution scheme has permitted Scotland to exercise on its own behalf is the party which is currently in office and likely to remain in office for the foreseeable future.As for LIT, which is the focus of attention now, there is obviously no majority for the SNP proposals, and there is unlikely to be a majority for any form of Council Tax replacement before the next Holyrood elections, unless the will to replace the Council Tax is strong enough across the parties to induce them to cooperate to devise a form of local-government finance which can be supported by a majority in the present parliament. That would be an achievement greater than one could reasonably expect. However, it may be that it is not to be ruled out until the Labour group has a new leader and that new leader has charted a course for that group, assuming that whoever is elected to that position will prove to be capable of doing so. Wed 03 Sep 2008 22:40:27 GMT+1 British_Lion A local income tax of 3p in the pound? Okay, the way I see it that means that the harder you work and the more money you make, the more you pay.So this excess money you're paying in LIT is used to fund freebies for those who earn less and, worst of all, those who can't be bothered working?I don't see how this is fair if it makes the hard working population worse off at the behest of those who scrounge. That is standard Westminster Labour policy and Salmond has copied that? I thought he was marketed as something different?It doesn't seem fair but time will tell, Salmond will enforce this regardless of what people think of it. Wed 03 Sep 2008 22:27:32 GMT+1 Jake-the-S Did all the people blethering on about HMRC forget Centre 1?Don't think setting up a new Scottish Tax Office would be a big problem as there is one in situ. Wed 03 Sep 2008 22:07:22 GMT+1 Derek_Paterson I think some form of local income tax is indisputable - council tax is unfair and needs to be changed. No matter which side of the independence debate you are on, for Westminster to turn around and effectively say "it's our way or the highway" and take £400m away from Scotland would be political suicide! If there's one way to play into King Alec's hand, it's to give him a bunch of p*ssed off Scots made poorer by Westminster's stubbornness. Wed 03 Sep 2008 22:07:04 GMT+1 Jake-the-S It surprises me that so many are against LIT.Lets look at it. A family of four where only one parent works pays the 3p or whatever.That one parent is paying for all the bills including the LIT. The family is using services provided by the local council and only one is paying how unfair!! But wait, 15 years later the same family living in the same house are all working and are all paying LIT. They get the same services for four times the price oh how unfair!Its swings and roundabouts and we have to pay for the services we are provided with and want. There is no use in moaning about it. I think this would be a fairer system than paying a tax on bricks and mortar. If you don't want to pay taxes go away and live somewhere you don't have to pay and see what services you get. Wed 03 Sep 2008 21:46:45 GMT+1 enneffess 107. At 9:52pm on 03 Sep 2008, The_Forfarian wrote:#17, #90, #103Given the propensity for UK government departments to incompetently manage data, I think it would be no bad thing if we started from scratch - rather than taking over any part of the existing UK structure which happens to reside in Scotland.Anyway, any computer system is more likely to cope well with a population of up to 6 million than with one 9 times greater.----------The system I was describing deals with a similar figure to 6 million. While a new system from scratch is attractive, who will provide it? Yep, probably the old favourites who will charge a fortune and take years to deliver. And from personal experience I do not want my Council to have even more of my details.It is more complex to set up even a small system than you may think. Not only does it need the programming for starters, you also need advisers to deal with the inevitable enquiries, and experienced staff likely to be working for HMRC already. But where do you locate it?The principle of LIT sounds fine, but it is giving the impression to many people that only one person in the house will pay, rather - and correct me if I am wrong - than the highest earner.If it is true that all taxpayers will have to pay, then the media will turn this into "Alex Salmond's Poll Tax". So I think he has for once shot himself in the foot. Many households, even with sensible mortgages etc are still right on the edge due to high living costs. Looking more into sales tax, I think it would be a good idea. You pay for what you use. Apply the same to road tax etc.One other point: water rates are added to your Council Tax bill. Are they going to go up to make up any potential shortfall?One thing the SNP might be gambling on is if the legislation is passed, Westminster will remove the current grant Scotland receives. That of course plays straight into SNP hands.On his other proposals, all for the age limit raised to 21 for off-licences. But why the hiding of cigarette displays? It will not make any difference. Spend the money on hard-hitting adverts instead.And for once can someone try and deal with the alcohol culture in this country? Wed 03 Sep 2008 21:39:46 GMT+1 iamrightok another point.. Councils are stuggling as it is to collect Council Tax and get their revenue in.. i really don't think they are ready for this sort of responsibility. .. if they are going to be asked to do this (as i believe is one of the options especially if independance does come (as above, no HMCR)..... significant investment will be required in their IT infrastructures and back office abilities..Also, how will it work LOCALLY in areas where say there are a high density of pensioners or low earners... will there be any support for these areas to be "topped up" from other, more affluent areas? Wed 03 Sep 2008 21:20:28 GMT+1 cynicalHighlander There are people decrying LIT and others seeing it as a way forward, surely any movement from the Council tax has got to be a good thing to start to redress the balance of wealth.I have been playing around with the link courtesy of #26 just to see how different scenarious play out and the winners seem to outnumber the losers, but one has to remember these losers are the ones who have been the winners in the past. This might be because of the rural location I live in.Holiday homes I would suspect will have to be dealt with as a separate entity as in general they contribute nothing to the local economy yet make use of the local infastructure and deny locals an affordable abode. Wed 03 Sep 2008 21:12:20 GMT+1 iamrightok Totally disagree Forfarian.. why is it fairer that I should pay more than someone else just because I earn more? ?! A very basic taxation argument I realise, but its as simple as that really.I worked to get where I am so that I could enjoy the benefits, not someone else, .. where is the incentive for the population to earn more/generate income/boost the economy? Certainly puts me off earning more if its not going to make its way to my bottom line. Maybe I am just being harsh not wanting to carry the can for others, but frankly ive been doing it for years and this is just another slap in the face. (with a Salmond).Ability pay ususally means earns more. Earning less seems to be the incentive here, which isn't really going to help our economy is it. Wed 03 Sep 2008 21:06:56 GMT+1 Dave McEwan Hill This post has been Removed Wed 03 Sep 2008 21:06:56 GMT+1 Older than the Pyramids #105, iamrightokYou make the perfect point as to why LIT is fairer - it is related to THE ABILITY TO PAY!!! Wed 03 Sep 2008 20:56:15 GMT+1 Older than the Pyramids #17, #90, #103Given the propensity for UK government departments to incompetently manage data, I think it would be no bad thing if we started from scratch - rather than taking over any part of the existing UK structure which happens to reside in Scotland.Anyway, any computer system is more likely to cope well with a population of up to 6 million than with one 9 times greater.--It is gratifying, however, that the bulk of the postings treat independence (desirable or otherwise) as inevitable. Wed 03 Sep 2008 20:52:59 GMT+1 Blogpolice Labour have a lot to answer for. Devolution - one chamber - no check and balance = stupid laws - and nobody thinks of the consequences. Wed 03 Sep 2008 20:50:14 GMT+1 iamrightok i personally can't wait to pay more "LIT" than my next door neighbours, who could potentially earn less and use more government services than the 2 of us;2 decent incomes in the 1 house to tax versus say 2 retirees, or 2 people who maybe have kids working less hours so earn less (and who probably get some sort of tax credit for doing so)... Great, incentive to reproduce if nothing else... personally i have absolutley nothing better to do with my money than subsidise those who work less, or don't work, or are "incapacitated"... can't wait. i'm off to make my appointment with an emigration expert. Wed 03 Sep 2008 20:50:05 GMT+1 rabbiehippo Oldnat .... good to see im not the only one skivving of my work on here lol Wed 03 Sep 2008 20:42:14 GMT+1 rabbiehippo #90 Neil i asked that question at #17 but to no avail . I would imagine we will need our own customs and excise and also our own dvla .... admittedly costing money but i suspect this has been worked out long ago .... i know the SNP are trying to cut down on a lot of wasted spending thats been going on for years . ie the useless PFI's that hospitals are trying to get out of at great cost. Wed 03 Sep 2008 20:39:09 GMT+1 Older than the Pyramids With the Scottish parliament having delivered democratic accountability to Scotland's services, do we NEED 'local' authorities at all?Imposing PR has removed any residual notion of a link between constituent and councillor, and is something for which the LibDems should never be forgiven.Doing away with the gravy train of council-life - notice how many council leaders (having once professed a desire to serve their ward almost to their dying breath) say "See ya" as soon as any MSP/MP job is in the offing - would save a fortune in unnecessary bureaucracy, and would probably be unnoticed by the people.As to losing 'local' accountability (although in some cases hardly any less remote than Edinburgh), I hold in higher regard appointed officials - doing a professional job and helping deliver a needed service - than self-important councillors, who merely TALK about such services.And the upshot would be that the LIT's collection and disbursement areas would be identical. Wed 03 Sep 2008 20:16:34 GMT+1 Tom #98.How can the unemployed pay council tax? How can the unemployed pay anything?"Mean while the English second home owners next door, who use the property as a country retreat and for the shooting season pay nothing."Of course. One flaw that would have to be taken into account for LIT to be successful."None of this matters as it will not happen, it is merely a very clever and cynical move by the SNP to make the other parties and the London Parliament look like the bad guys."It could well happen still. We can only hope that the flaws are taken into account and matters are put into place to correct them. LIT could be the best thing since sliced bread, we only need more effort to ensure it works.Does anyone know what Labour have offered as an alternative yet? Or is it all talk and no action from them lot? Wed 03 Sep 2008 20:10:30 GMT+1 U11769947 Re post99The phrase "SPECTACULAR O' G" does spring to mind.Continue, it's spot on. (right and proper)Cheers. Wed 03 Sep 2008 19:57:10 GMT+1 one step beyond Re post 97, thanks Derek, appreciate it, believe this could be the first big mistake Alex Salmond has made IF the other parties let him do it. Think I will shut up for now though - take care Wed 03 Sep 2008 19:42:27 GMT+1 one step beyond Re post 94, I think I see where you are coming from. But my understanding is that even the unemployed currently pay council tax, while they will not pay LIT. So the unemployed will be better off under LIT compared to council tax. Unless you think the 280m will be made up by reducing unemployment benefit, if so I have not seen this in the SNP announccement.The ones who will be worse off are the hard working familes who have to stay in the same house because they cannot afford to move out. If figures are right and the LIT will be 3% of salary, then a family of four each earning on average 17,000 GBP (64,000 in total) will pay a total of 2040 GBP. Current average council tax is 1000 GBP, that hard working family will be 1040 GBP worse off.Mean while the English second home owners next door, who use the property as a country retreat and for the shooting season pay nothing. None of this matters as it will not happen, it is merely a very clever and cynical move by the SNP to make the other parties and the London Parliament look like the bad guys. I so hope they call Alex Salmond's bluff and let him wallow in misery of his own making. Wed 03 Sep 2008 19:39:16 GMT+1 U11769947 jordanbassetGreat post's, you do make some very pertinent points pertaining to the doomed LIT. Wed 03 Sep 2008 19:26:19 GMT+1 Older than the Pyramids #84, xjonboy"And what if you work in Scotland and live in England? You would end up paying twice - Scottish income tax and English council tax."And, presumably, you could live in Scotland (paying no council tax) and work in England (paying lower income tax). Wed 03 Sep 2008 19:05:11 GMT+1 oldnat #89 AmusedyankFrom me also, welcome to the blog.A problem any country has is being too introverted, and not looking at what happens elsewhere. The USA has a wide range of different taxation systems - state to state (even county to county) and those people on this side of the pond who are terrified of marginal differences across national boundaries should look at the relatively minor problems that exist near the border between Oregon and Washington. Your comments are useful, insightful and of value in our debate. Keep the observations coming.You other guys - like Brownedov, I have some work that needs doing (so I can pay my taxes). I'll visit when I can (or if the work is boring me stupid). Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:59:14 GMT+1 Tom #91.It depends how you see the issue. I support LIT because I see LIT as a tax cut, which will result in less services or resources being moved from other parts of the budget to support the councils.Most would object immediatly, however I am thinking of the wider public. Rising costs are effecting families and a lower tax would help them recover, especailly after the 10p tax mayhem Labour caused (still causing).The only problem LIT has are the loop-holes that the wealthy can afford to use. If LIT were to happen (very unlikily) then I hope the SNP ensure that everyone pays and no one can hide.Personally, I would rather move money from supporting the unemployed to LIT then those who don't want to work, don't have to but will find living very difficult. Of course, the Nats don't control that part of our countries finances (I don't think?) but I am sure something could be done to ensure LIT actually helps those who pay into it. Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:49:32 GMT+1 Colkitto Very disapointed the Holyrood Live FMQ's is not getting an hour slot or even equal coverage as PMQ's at Westminster.Poor show BBC Scotland ! Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:46:39 GMT+1 enneffess Apologies for posting twice on the trot!!I have just read post No 75.Why can't the SNP go for a sales tax?Or would EU law on VAT scupper that one? Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:41:04 GMT+1 one step beyond Re post, the 280 m from Government funds you mention. I take it then that money was not meant for anything. It was not ear marked for the health service, care of the elderly, schools. It was just lying around in a draw some where? You would prefer it to be spent to subsidise what may be quite wealthy people and second home owners.Here is an idea, if that 280m is going spare use some of it to provide support to those pensioners with only the state pension to live on, who are stuggling with the council tax. A much easire thing to do, you would probably get a lot of change. Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:34:49 GMT+1 enneffess Some people seem to be missing an important point:The SNP (if I am right) expect HMRC to provide the details. Fair enough. What happens if Scotland becomes independant?An entire new "Scottish" HMRC will have to be created, and at immense cost.I work in an operation where details are already collect in a similar size of setup as the proposed LIT, and that can barely cope. Many errors are made and trying to keep tabs on someone's current employment can be frustrating to the point of distraction.3p in the pound sounds great. But in own situation I would be saving about 900 pounds a year. Fantastic! But that means 900 pounds less for council (albeit limited) services. Where is the shortfall going to come from?I think Alex has finally made a mistake.And he cannot blame anyone else for it. Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:31:48 GMT+1 Amusedyank #78 forfar-loon:“Funding everything from sales tax has its appeal - it would certainly hit the big spenders hardest (if that is what we want).”It would not necessarily hit them harder, as sales tax is a percentage of the purchase price. It would however be up to the person who is making the purchase to evaluate the costs (and associated tax); maybe they don’t buy the 1,500GBP flatscreen television (300GBP sales tax @ 20%), and instead go with the more economical 1,000GBP (200GBP tax @20%) television. This is totally the purchaser’s choice, and ultimately they get to choose how much tax they want to pay to the government.“One concern I have is that it would dampen consumer spending, at least in the short term (no jokes about Scottish thriftiness please!). This was certainly the case in Germany a year or two back when VAT was raised there. But as with all things, we would adjust to higher prices and no doubt the level of spending would recover once the initial shock wore off.”That certainly could happen, and it will take some getting used to, as you said levels will return once people get used to the costs. Other thoughts on this, are exactly the opposite. One line of thinking is spending will actually increase as there will no longer be withholdings to pay income taxes, your entire paycheck will be yours to do with as you please. I know with my paycheck, my employer withholds about 30% for income tax (state, federal, and other federal taxes like social security and medicare) payment alone. This does not include health insurance or pension fund payments (these payments are usually taken out before your tax withholding is figured and thus are not taxed). So automatically, I would see my take home pay increase over 20%.“Another potential drawback would be the growth of the black market - we might well end up bartering with each other again! No bad thing some might say, although the taxman might beg to differ!”The tax man can go to, well this is a civilized discussion :). Ultimately, someone bought the item from some place at some time, and thus paid sales tax. In the USA, sales without tax are strictly monitored (distributor to retailer or wholesaler to retailer); ultimately the retailer is the entity that collects the sales tax.In order for sales to be made without a sales tax being levied, the purchaser must produce a sales tax license, this license is in essense a contract to collect appropriate taxes when the items are sold to the ultimate consumer. This license is necessary to conduct business, and thus failure to levy and collect appropriate sales tax can cause severe fines and penalties including loss of sales tax license and business license(this includes not having sales tax licence).“Finally it would be very hard for the government to predict tax revenues under such a system. If food prices shoot up (as recently) then there would be less money sloshing around to be spent on goods subject to sales tax. Smoothing these peaks and troughs would be a tricky task.”This is a problem that many state and local governments face, there are some very advanced sales tax prediciton models being used by various treasurers. These models use quarterly sales tax payments from retailers to the treasury from previous quarters, and some other economic data that I am not totally aware of to predict revenue. Thus budgets set by legislatures (Parlament in your case), are generally flexible. This means that in the case of the State of Arizona, if the treasurer sees a trend of declining revenue, the govenor will work with the legislature to adjust the budget. In some cases the govenor will instruct various agencies and secretaries (ministers in your case) to start looking for ways to trim the budget.Another way government bodies cope with the swings is by creating reserve funds. This fund is not used unless there is a shortfall in tax revenues, and is funded when there is a surplus created by higher than expected tax revenue. If your politicians are anything like our politicians, any unspent money is considered a vote not purchased (sarcasim), and thus there are local councilmembers who have gotten into political (and legal) trouble for trying to tap these reserve funds when no shortfall is evident.Sometimes the cuts made due to revenue are not popular, and thus the people make changes to funding without the legislature being involved. One notable shortfall here, the legislature cut funding to local schools. The people we extremely upset, and put forth a ballot initiative that raised our sales tax by .5% (it passed with over 75% of voters in favor). The initiative made it legally impossible for the legislature to touch the funds raised by the sales tax increase, and now our schools are more secure in their funding than ever.Thanks for the welcome by the way! Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:28:10 GMT+1 oldnat I'm only going to comment on one item, before I actually read the Scottish Government's programme for 2008-09.I totally support the plan to ban all displays of cigarettes in shops. I've tried to give up the foul weed on a number of occasions, and each time I've succumbed to the addiction, it's been those damned displays behind the counter. We don't allow less dangerous drugs to be openly displayed for sale, and I see no reason to allow it for tobacco. I urged my previous Labour MSP (and Executive Minister) to do this, but no joy.I may disagree with other parts of the SNP programme - but not this one. Well done the Scottish Government! Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:23:04 GMT+1 goodingm #49 Cowpat, you are a real dumpling. Alex Salmond has already stated that the shortfall will be made up with the current £400M CTB and an extra £280M from Government funds.There is no black hole. Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:12:28 GMT+1 one step beyond Currently, according to the Scottish Government web site, there are 100,000 second homes or vacant properties in Scotland. Council tax is still payable on these houses, indeed recently there has been a move to ensure they pay 100% council tax (quite right). If you take an average council tax bill of 1,000 GBP, that works out as 100 million GBP.Under a local income tax this will not be paid and will leave a further deficit in the budget. Unless of course they maintain the current system to collect council tax from second homes, in addition to the bureacracy needed to collect income tax. You would also need another bureacracy to establish which were second homes and maybe enquiry agents to run checks. Either way it would become an unworkable mess Wed 03 Sep 2008 18:06:16 GMT+1 DunkyR Surely a flat rate of 3p across the nation isn't fair? Though if for one year then putting in the flexibility that would make it fair probably not a bad thing. Or actually giving local councils the framework to work out the best flexible rates for their adminstrative areas would be possibly offer greater equality? The drinking plan, well I'm not sure targetting under 21s will really help. My main experience in Scotland isn't with drunk youths (being reliant on public transport, a bicycle and my feet) but mainly with drunks during the day. Mainly male and definitely not under 21. On the trains many seem to be oil workers. The problem isn't just the 18-21 year olds but across many ages and possibly in the rougher bits of town. What about seriously looking at where our drinking culture stems from and try properly working from there. When I go out it's not just the under 21's I see falling over causing trouble. Wed 03 Sep 2008 17:49:15 GMT+1 xjonboy If this really were LIT (although it sounds more like NIT) it would be horrendously complicated and more costly to administer than council tax - raising money where you work and applying it to the council where you live.And what if you work in Scotland and live in England? You would end up paying twice - Scottish income tax and English council tax. Wed 03 Sep 2008 17:47:34 GMT+1 Lankyscot Well, I'm wondering how it adds up too. The official stats say that 1.8bn GBP came to councils in CT in the 2006-07 financial year. A further 359m GBP came from CTB. Sure there's a Scot Govt paper outlining what it should be - but if we take 3% of the Scottish average earnings in 2007 (£22,831 according to ONS) and mutliply it by 2.4 million employees we only come out at 1.65bn GBP. Even we still get CTB in a new form then we're still £150m short.I'm assuming this is being made up by John Swinney from central government funds in last year's spending review, but it does represent a substantial shift from locally- based taxation to central funding (again). Wed 03 Sep 2008 17:29:52 GMT+1 U11769947 I would like to see some reply from Oldnat and Brownedov, after all they do provide a strong argument on all their views. Wed 03 Sep 2008 17:29:35 GMT+1 Edi_Scott There is no perfect solution. However this one is insane. The only winners will be the very rich who can afford creative accontants and the low earners, but even then there is a mechanism to help the low paid. There is no mention of the fact that we have an ageing population and the potential double whammy that that brings with it. Higher costs to support them, and little or no income as their income is unlikely to be swept up easily via PAYE.The best way to spread the tax burden is to have more than one mechanism ie earnings related via PAYE and 'wealth' related via the CT. LIT only adds to the PAYE burden.There are similar problems in raising funds in limited membership Golf Clubs where the age mix is growing. OAPs get reduced subs and the burden is being spread over a reducing middle aged population. This LIT will also push people into the black economy. An alternative tax would be a sales tax. Penalising those who spend. Wed 03 Sep 2008 17:24:41 GMT+1 one step beyond Thinking about this more if the liberal democrats and or labour party were clever they would point out what they see as downsides of the proposal1. Black hole in the finances2. Unfairness on those large familes on low incomes who have to live in the same house because they cannot afford to move out. 3. Situation of the multi millionaires who do not pay income tax but do pay council tax. Under this proposal they will pay nothing.4. Second ome owners, particularly from England, who do not pay income tax in Scoitland will now also pay no tax on the property.There are others, but that would do to start. They then get assurances from the SNP that all would be ok. In view of this they decide to abstain on the vote and it gets passed. Fast forward 12 months, nightly on the news there will be stories of low paid large families strugggling to pay the increased tax. Comparisions with the multi millionaires and English second homers paying nothing. Those families better off under the new system won't make the news, unfortunately a good story is no story. There were some gainers under the poll tax, how much coverage did those that benefitted get. More T.V. coverage about the budget defict and hospital services being cut.Pan to oppostion politicians firmly putting the blame on the SNP, roll on the election.Unfortunately this will not happen, opposition politicians will block this proposal and the SNP will make the headlines complaining about them and how Scotland needs independence to manage it's own afairs Wed 03 Sep 2008 17:23:21 GMT+1 tuairimiocht Aberdeenbill:"Why are the SNP so keen on LIT and yet they were so opposed to POLL Tax."Because an income tax will be progressive, meaning the more income one has, the larger a proportion one pays. On the other hand, the poll tax is regressive (a flat tax), since everyone pays the same amount. Thus, low-income residents are hit disproportionately hard by a poll tax.For this reason, the LIT seems like a very good idea. It also takes the unemployed out of the property-tax net automatically, without their having to apply for council-tax benefit.You suggest that Alex Salmond get a life. His grasp of public finances are sound enough to suggest that he has spent a long time studying them - and he may therefore need your advice! Wed 03 Sep 2008 17:16:12 GMT+1 forfar-loon #75 Amusedyank:Welcome! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. As Burns said: "O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us, To see oursels as others see us" I hope you continue to drop in!Funding everything from sales tax has its appeal - it would certainly hit the big spenders hardest (if that is what we want).One concern I have is that it would dampen consumer spending, at least in the short term (no jokes about Scottish thriftiness please!). This was certainly the case in Germany a year or two back when VAT was raised there. But as with all things, we would adjust to higher prices and no doubt the level of spending would recover once the initial shock wore off.Another potential drawback would be the growth of the black market - we might well end up bartering with each other again! No bad thing some might say, although the taxman might beg to differ!Finally it would be very hard for the government to predict tax revenues under such a system. If food prices shoot up (as recently) then there would be less money sloshing around to be spent on goods subject to sales tax. Smoothing these peaks and troughs would be a tricky task.How are people in the States proposing to tackle these potential pitfalls?PS Don't worry, nobody here can get the pound sign to appear either! Too advanced for the BBC techies to resolve it seems ;o) I would just use GBP. Wed 03 Sep 2008 16:59:24 GMT+1 Anaxim The Lib Dems are edging away from LIT, so it most likely won't happen. I would say that it's disingenuous to state that Lib Dems ought to support the SNP's blanket income tax as 'it's basically the same'. The differences, and what they'd mean for Scottish society, are enormous! Wed 03 Sep 2008 16:35:05 GMT+1 quietscotsmac #7'Why not amend the existing Council Tax? Add in more bands perhaps?'What good would that do? Some pensioners live in houses they've lived in for many years and worked many years to maintain it. For example, my house is band F and I pay accordingly. That was fine before I became a pensioner. I'm now asset rich etc.Perhaps you're one of those of the opinion that single pensioners should just sell up and go and live in a one bedroomed box. Wed 03 Sep 2008 16:24:23 GMT+1 Amusedyank Just happen across this article on Google's news page, and being someone on the outside looking in, I wished we here in the USA were having this debate.Right now (I live in Arizona), I pay 1000 pounds (forgive my lack of knowing how to get the right currency symbol to display) to what you would call "Council Tax", here it is known as Property Tax (it has other things tacked on like Library funding, bond funding, and local school funding). My home is valued at about 80,000 pounds.Then I pay a state and federal income tax, the rate is about 18% total between the two. So in pounds I pay about 2000 in income taxes. My wife and I earn about 45,000 pounds a year.We have the same problem here in the US as you do now, property taxes have greater impact on lower and middle income people, as the wealthier seem to find ways out of paying. Those that work for employers who pay them with cash, and thus not report the income to authorities, pay nothing; as do those that make a living in other nefarious ways (dealing drugs, stealing, and what not). There is a growing movement in the USA to totally scrap the property tax and the income tax and move to a sales tax.Sales tax here does not get applied to food you by from a Grocery store, convenience stores, butcher shops, or bakeries. It only gets applied if you goto a place that prepares your food for you (McDonalds for example). We in Arizona pay about 8.1% on every dollar spent for sales tax. Rural areas pay less as they have fewer government services to pay for. The state levies about 5.5% and the county / city levy an additional 2-3.6% (depending on where you live). So by going to a tax system based entirely on sales of non-food items, everyone will pay regardless of their wealth or job. Each family can control their tax burden, and those that choose to earn a living outside of government observation will still pay their share.Those that are on pensions or still below a certain level of poverty, can apply to the government for a rebate.Just a though from someone who has lived with a "Council Tax" for all his life, and has known people who manage to live without paying a penny of tax outside that of Sales Tax. Wed 03 Sep 2008 16:21:43 GMT+1 bighullabaloo "It is often difficult, in truth, to discern a theme from such legislative packages."Allow me, Brian.Salmond belts another scorcher into the net as the "opposition" do their version of the Keystone Kops.Not so difficult after all, eh?! Wed 03 Sep 2008 16:20:24 GMT+1 one step beyond I agree with some of the above posts. You will have a situation of a large family of fairly low paid workers paying collectively a very large bill. Meanwhile the off shore millionaire living in his mansion will pay nothing.Example family of 4 living in 3 bedroomed house, all working and earning on average 12,000 per year each. Currently, depending on where they live, they may pay £1000 per year for their current council tax. I may be wrong but I think it unlikely that the LIT they each pay will be £250 each or less, it is likely to be substantially more and they wil be worse off. Wonder if they will get 4 times the amount of rubbish collections. Reminds me of something, oh yes I remember, used to be called the poll tax.While the likes of Mr Ambromovich pays nothing in his mansion. On that score it is also good for those with second homes, may get more English buying holiday homes, no tax to pay! Wed 03 Sep 2008 16:14:40 GMT+1 Older than the Pyramids What about water and sewerage charges?Are they supposed to be met by LIT?If not, the current collection arrangements will have to be maintained (or something at least as cumbersome put in their place). Wed 03 Sep 2008 16:04:05 GMT+1 brynt41 LIT sounds fantastic to me. I wish the Welsh Assembly could bring it in. Wed 03 Sep 2008 16:00:35 GMT+1 handclapping #16 Simon_BrookeSo Local Income Tax is "obviously" fairer.My income is more than twice the UK median but Mr Darling doesn't get a penny piece out of me so even if the SNP got their 3p in the £ it would be 3% of £0 which is a big fat £0. What is fair about that.?I pay £ thousands for my council tax and I use a lot of the council services now, planning, libraries, bins and probably even more so in the future if I'm unlucky enough to grow frail and need the social services as well. What is not fair about that?Most of the top earners can avoid paying anymore income tax than they have to, some even by emigrating if they want to. Can we really afford to loose big wealth creators? Ordinary people mostly can't avoid paying their taxes, their only hope is to find a job elsewhere and emigrate. Can we really afford to loose any wealth creators? What is fair about that?My home could easily house a family of four but I'm selfish enough to want it for myself. There are folk out there desperate to get housed but I get a 25% discount on the council tax to live on my own. What's fair about that? I had another house in the centre of town that I kept empty for 3 years and paid no council tax. What's fair about that? Not much in either case but they don't need a LIT to put right, just a reform of the council tax. How will HMRC distribute all the 3ps? By where you earn or where you live? What if you move a) house or b) job? Or will our Scottish Government swipe the lot and say leave it to us to hand out? In which case haven't they just created quangos out of every local authority? I thought quangos were against SNP policy.When politicians start talking "fairer", "justice", "national", we need to turn that stone over and examine what's underneath very carefully. This proposal is to replace one "unfair" tax with another "unfair" tax. To paraphrase a wise Irishman, also speaking of local government, "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance".PS #48 The traditional answer is - only because you mis-spelled gullable. Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:55:46 GMT+1 U9461192 my #63 I attempted to abbreviate 200,000 by using 200 followed by a single letter that falls between J and L. Such a large salary kept getting blocked as a profanity!Nope. I wanted to use a 2 followed by the letter that dare not speak its name yesterday. Same problem. Took me till this AM to figure it out. Hence the long-hand. Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:54:34 GMT+1 U9461192 Also, are allocations to councils to be simply per capita or even worse pro rata to what is taken in tax "locally"?That was something that worried me. Before we left. Tax, even small amounts on the very poor, serves one useful purpose. It connects them to the cause and effect of their decisions. At the extreme - if you suddenly take half the population entirely out of tax then they have absolutely no reason to consider the consequences of their votes. Yeah, let's vote ourselves jacuzzis and Lear-jets!!! And some other numpty has to pay.And that, gentle readers, is why the single persons allowance is 6,000 quid a year. Sure we could raise just as much money setting a flat tax of 20% and a tax free allowance at 15,000 quid. Plus we could fire about 80% of the revenue people. But then all those on 14,000 quid would be looking for you on 16,000 quid to fund a swimming pool for their street. Quick show of hands and viola new pool. Before you knew it your flat tax would be 100%.Another point - this is just centralisation of power. In a small constituency (numerically) like Scotland that may make sense to a certain extent but long-term it may/will be used to 'punish' councils (or rather local voters) who vote the 'wrong' way.There are however massive savings in terms of unnecessary duplication/multiplication of council functionnaires across all the counties so the shortfall from the 3% could easily be made up by firing a whole bundle of council staff. Or at least initiate a ten year hiring freeze. Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:52:10 GMT+1 corporationtax Wouldn't get too excited about LIT being some sort of panacea for wealth redistribution. Nor will top earners need the to look for creative accountants to shelter income. Instead, soothing noises have been made to the business community that there will be a cap placed on the maximum levels of contributions an individual will be levied for in terms of LIT. Surprised the opposition parties haven't ruffled some feathers on this one. Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:47:55 GMT+1 minceandmealie Most posters above who say they are opposed to local income tax are deploying arguments against income tax in general. For example, those who point out that a household with several people working will pay more than one with one person working, that is how income tax works already. I don't suppose you would replace income tax with a flat tax per household? That would be unfair, wouldn't it....It is also argued above that wealthy high earners may structure their affairs to avoid paying any local income tax, so paying nothing, and also that wealthy will pay an unfair and excessive burden and so flee the country, cease to work hard any more, turn purple or whatever. I don't suppose it can be both of these....Actually, it is probably neither. Most high earners pay a fair whack in income tax on salary, and may also have income from shares or other investments outwith the scope of what the Scottish government can tax. So the average high earner is going to be hit for a fair amount of LIT, quite likely to be more than they are paying just now under the council tax top band, but working out to be less than 3% of all their earnings. If you have any figures that disprove this hypothesis I would be interested to see them.Anyway, this is all just chat. As far as the politics go, can you see people out on the street demanding to save the council tax? "We love the Council Tax!" Even the Labour leadership hopefuls have all been forced to admit it needs to be changed. The Tories used to hate the rates, as I recall, and now they are the only party rock hard behind the council tax, which is more or less the same as the rates. Funny old world.A far more entertaining one politically is the proposed twenty-one rule for buying a carry out. I can just about see students staging a "right to drink" march...and I can see people shouting things at them.... Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:45:04 GMT+1 forfar-loon my #63 I attempted to abbreviate 200,000 by using 200 followed by a single letter that falls between J and L. Such a large salary kept getting blocked as a profanity!Bighullabaloo: I take it all back, clearly the Beeb is now automating left-wing bias ;o)In an attempt to restore balance I would add to #34 (regmitchell) that other cornflake brands are available. Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:44:18 GMT+1 U11769947 #56I've no doubt you mean well but the LIT system as it stands does nothing in terms of lifting those on lower incomes out of an unfair taxation burden.If you are indeed in favour of a more effective distribution of wealth,could I suggest that your answers dont "lie" with the snp. Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:40:55 GMT+1 forfar-loon #53 BOA: That's the best suggestion I've ever seen on Brian's blog :o)#54 UB40:I suspect someone earning 200,000 a year wouldn't be that bothered about paying an extra 4,000 in tax. Just as a few hundred quid for me on my more modest earnings is not going to dictate where I live/move to. Besides, if high earners (or their accountants) have any nous they'll get around whatever system we have in place. Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:37:26 GMT+1 forfar-loon #44 MaliceTown:Oddly similar to this offering from the Have Your Say "discussion" (BTW it's scary in there!)..."Making a difference is not the same as making things free, we will have mediocre education system, mediocre health care to go with a mediocre economy oh and mediocre athletes as there is no money. A referendum NOW!!!"MandyMacDid you really think this was worth spouting twice? Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:36:14 GMT+1 jam804 I agree with the comment made at #14:"This isn't a 'local' income tax; it's the same rate in Lerwick as it is in Stranraer, and those two places are not local to each other."Such a system negates local initiative and accountability ie democracy. In fact it tends towards making local councils irrelevant.Also, are allocations to councils to be simply per capita or even worse pro rata to what is taken in tax "locally"? Meaning that the more wealthy an area the more it receives? Or alternatively will LA's have to "bid" for extra funds or will there be a formula "factored in" to take into account areas with higher needs? Will this be called the McBarnett formula if it is deemed necessary?The current property based tax is flawed but at least it takes into account an aspect of wealth. Property can't be hidden as easily as "income". Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:35:56 GMT+1 Bangingonabout #55Sorry, but I completely missed the point you were making.Do you think LIT is good, bad or what? How about under 21s in off licences?#56 Disagree with you in para 1. Saying there will a loss of tax revenue is simple maths. It doesn't imply you want to deny Scotland anything. If anything it implies that you want to ensure that services are maintained.The answer for Labour would be to support a reform of the CT thus ensuring that CT benefit will keep coming to Scotland without any argument at all. Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:35:13 GMT+1 Dunroamin 56. To suggest Labour are against devolution is a little ridiculous when you remember that Labour introduced devolution and the +/-3% income tax (that Salmond bizarrely refuses to use in favour of his own 3%).Also Labour are not witholding the CTB because of "Scottish democracy and policy-making" (whatever that means). They are witholding it because it is a benefit for low-earning Council Tax payers (hence the name). If there is no Council Tax, that benefit ceases to exist - and will possibly have to go on Income Support instead.Finally, (once again a reminder is needed) the CTB is not "Scotland's money". A claim that doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:33:16 GMT+1 Older than the Pyramids #57, Reluctant-Expat"The Parliament is in Westminster but the Government is in Whitehall."Not sure what your point is: Whitehall (a road) is in Westminster (a London borough). Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:30:25 GMT+1 Dunroamin I wonder if Salmond would be happy to give local councils full autonomy when it comes to LIT?12-15% income tax and councils keep all the money. This being offset by an equivalent drop in income tax at Holyrood/Westminster level.(This reference to the UK govt as 'Westminster' has always puzzled me. The Parliament is in Westminster but the Government is in Whitehall.) Wed 03 Sep 2008 15:20:08 GMT+1