Scotland politics

Swinney insists stamp duty replacement tax 'on track'

Estate agent Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Residential receipts are behind the forecasted level, but non-residential income has balanced this out

The Scottish government says its stamp duty replacement is "on track" despite it raising two-thirds of expected revenues in its first nine months.

The government estimated the residential land and buildings transaction tax would raise £235m in the 2015/16 financial year.

Over the first nine months, official figures show £156.7m was raised.

However, revenue from non-residential sales was £158m over the same period, above a forecast of £146m for the year.

The land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) came into force in April 2015, replacing stamp duty.

Property experts have already called for it to be reviewed, claiming receipts could be down £30m in its first year and saying the higher end of the market was "stalling".

'Firmly on track'

The latest figures mean residential tax receipts are trailing behind projections and will need to hit £78.3m in the final quarter in order to match the government's original estimate.

But the better than expected non-residential income means combined receipts are £315.3m across the first three quarters of the financial year, closing in on the annual estimate of £381m.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said revenues were "firmly on track", praising Revenue Scotland for a "pivotal milestone" of its 100,000th tax return.

He said: "Our objective has always been to make sure that first-time buyers have the greatest possible chance to enter the housing market.

"LBTT was one of the first Scottish taxes collected in 300 years and these figures show that more than 40,000 home buyers have benefited since it was introduced.

"This means that 93% of home buyers have paid less tax than they would have done under UK stamp duty land tax, or paid no tax at all."

Mr Swinney highlighted a Bank of Scotland review which said the tax system had helped home movers save money and encouraged more transactions.

He said: "Where we have the freedom to shape a taxation system that is fair and proportionate to the ability to pay, we have created one that is progressive and supports those who most need it."

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