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Have Your Say: council tax

A Scottish flag and Scottish National Party rosette
The Scottish government says the scheme would be fair

Although council tax
rates have recently been set for 2008/09 in England, Wales and Scotland, the future costs for Scottish households remain less sure, as discussions continue about a replacement tax.

The Scottish government plans to bin what it calls
the "unfair" council tax and introduce a local income tax in 2011/12.

Do you think the Scottish government has got it right with the idea of a new income tax?

Perhaps you feel that council tax is the fairest option.

Or maybe you have a suggestion for a replacement tax.

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. The debate is now closed.


Any % based tax has to be fair as the more you earn, the more you pay
Richard, London

This sounds like another version of the poll tax and as the poll tax, will lead to people going underground to avoid paying it. However it could work if left to HMRC to collect and distribute. Adding, say, 1p in the pound for council services to our income tax could be handed out to local councils based on numbers on the electoral roll. It's not foolproof but it will reduce the burden on councils to collect any money and reduce their collection bill as it will all be handled by HMRC if we can trust them not to muck it up. As an aside, any % based tax has to be fair as the more you earn, the more you pay. I think people forget this when talking about tax in general. If I earn 10k at 20% I pay 2k, if I earn 100k @ 20% I pay 20k and hence pay more.
Richard, London

I am amazed that Joseph Duda had the audacity to complain about paying council tax on a second house he uses "for storage". Undoubtedly, there are cheaper ways to store, so one can assume that he is keeping hold of the property to gain from property price inflation. If he wants to benefit in this way then I don't see why other council tax payers have to subsidise him.
Daniel Charles, Edinburgh

The local council scrapped the empty property reduction and I now find I am paying more in real terms
Joseph Duda, Wrexham

Since my mother died and left me her house over 10 years ago, and with my income dropping, I am finding it difficult to pay for my own house - where I live with my wife who works part time - and also pay full council tax for my mother's old property - which is used just for storage and is in need of much renovation. Sometimes the bin is emptied once a year - that's all. Just over two years ago I successfully had mum's old house banding lowered because of the renovation required, together with the reduction for empty properties, and thought at last there is some fairness around and was content to pay my bit. To my amazement last year, the local council scrapped the empty property reduction and I now find I am paying more in real terms.
Joseph Duda, Wrexham

The Scottish government's idea of funding local government with a rise in income tax is good in principle, but they will need to think through the detail. For example, if I bought a holiday home in Scotland, would I avoid all property taxes on it?
Chris Grey, Guildford

I am praying that income tax comes in very soon, as the council tax is so unfair. I am paying a quarter of my take home pay on the tax. It is just as well I get working tax credits or I would be in poverty.
Robert Knowles, Selkirk

Tax based on property value may have had some merit in the 18th and 19th centuries when property ownership was very limited, but it is now grossly unjust
Charles Haworth, Leek

In so far as the tax proposed is proportionate to income, it is a fair tax. Tax based on property value may have had some merit in the 18th and 19th centuries when property ownership was very limited, but it is now grossly unjust. The present government intends to revalue taking into account many factors all of which are completely unrelated to the occupier's ability to pay. Is it really the intention to make people downsize?.
Charles Haworth, Leek

Here in Aberdeenshire, my wife and I each pay 1200 per annum on a band B house. Based on income we would both save lots. I think mostly people would save, hence the difference in the amount collected from now. But it's not the amount, it's the idea that is important as it would be fairer. Money Box failed to discuss the underlying philosophy.
Donald M Shepherd

The current method of calculating council tax takes no account of the householder's ability to pay. This is especially true of pensioners who exist on a fixed pension with little opportunity to improve this. A much fairer system would be to use a local income tax system. The existing information held by HMRC could be used to make these calculations.
Bill Fancourt

Local income tax is a much fairer system, but because of the outcry it would cause I doubt if central government would have the 'bottle' to implement it. But maybe, just maybe, the Scots being more pragmatic, they might do it. If not why not fund local councils directly from central funding, or why not increase vat and use this to fund local councils.
Sid Jacques

Please consider the principle of 'from each of us according to our means; to each of us according to our needs'
Meagaid

Local income tax would be a disaster for the Highlands and other rural areas as this system would generate far less than council tax. Low-paid workers, pensioners and self-employed people make up a huge proportion of rural populations and these people would pay nothing or very little. With a huge area to cover, Highland Council will find itself struggling far more than it is at the moment - and the situation is extremely difficult as it is. I would pay a lot less, but I don't want that, believe it or not - isolated and vulnerable individuals will suffer the most. SNP and the Lib Dems have obviously not looked at the impact on rural areas where the demographics are startling different from the central belt. Can someone please consider the principle of 'from each of us according to our means; to each of us according to our needs'?
Meagaid

At last.......someone is taking the most unfair tax of all "council tax" seriously. Or at least trying to come up with a fairer system. The only fair tax is income tax. I always thought the Scots were canny but this shows that they are fair and brilliant as well. Super idea.
D. Hay

I don't disagree that council tax is unfair but this is not the answer. Those who lost power through imposing poll tax on Scotland must be delighted to see this own goal. Flat rate income tax is expensive for the poorest as Labour in Westminster are just realising. I earn about 3 times the national average income and if I understand this correctly will pay less than I do in council tax. My home is in the second highest council tax band. If I pay less it must mean that apart from the very rich (and there really are not many of them) the burden is falling on the poorest and those of average incomes. Doesn't seem fairer to me but if Alex Salmond wants to call this fair he is going to suffer. More people will see how the small world of Nationalism lacks the depth to bring forward good thought out policies of benefit to all.
Graeme

The council tax is fair in that it addresses all equally - the government will tinker with it at its peril
Chris Exelby

Once again we hear the justification for local income tax that the burden will fall upon "those who can afford to pay". So let us consider both end of the spectrum: a retired couple in a large house, likely to be asset rich but cash poor. At the other end the young couple with a family, huge mortgage and the two incomes necessary to fund a basic lifestyle. Who really has the greatest ability to pay? Clearly the retired couple have far greater ability to pay in that they can down size or use equity relief to raise funds. A strategy that the young family, or indeed anyone with a mortgage will not be able to do. How would it be phased in? Will the nicely comfortable retired population who have not had to carry the this extra tax burden during their working life suddenly benefit from a tax reduction they have not contributed one penny to? The council tax is fair in that it addresses all equally - the government will tinker with it at its peril.
Chris Exelby

Local income tax is the fairest way to fund local councils, based on people's ability to pay. This is what most people in Scotland voted for in the last election, and why Labour were kicked out. English people should follow our example for fairness.
Mrs Marion Mitchell, Edinburgh

The abolition of council tax is long overdue! I remember my widowed mother struggling to pay this tax because she and my father had purchased their home rather than rent a council house. A close friend lived in a council house with his parents and four adult brothers and sisters - all of whom were wage earners but only paid one council rent. How fair was that then, and how fair is that now?
Richard Sweet

I believe this is a good idea benefiting those on the lowest incomes as some pensioners are paying as much as 50% of the basic state pension in this tax. What those who oppose it must remember that they might be on a low income one day. Another idea would be a local sales tax which councils would have to compete with other councils to keep the sales tax down.
Richard Clissold

Why I should have to pay, on pain of prison, 1800 quid a year for 'council services'?
Shane Cook
Absolutely brilliant idea. Why I should have to pay, on pain of prison, 1800 quid a year for 'council services' which as far I can I see consists of collecting the bins once per week. Sure I don't mind the 200 quid paid to the police. For 1600 quid I could drop off my rubbish myself!
Shane Cook

Council tax greatly penalises single people like me. It is a hugely unfair tax so Scotland's idea of a local income tax is great. Let's hope it happens and then rolls down to England.
Mrs Griffiths

I do think that a local income tax should be a fairer option; for younger families, for the elderly remaining in their family home when their children have left, and for those on limited income but who fall outside present benefit limits.
Paul C Mullineaux

Local income tax will be an added burden to honest hardworking voters and a bonus for the very wealthy
E Woods

The proposed introduction of local income tax will again impact on those people without the wealth to use accountants and find ways of avoiding paying tax. The current tax regime is bad enough without another layer of costly bureaucracy. There is a black economy out there with widespread evasion of income and value added taxes. The council tax is collected from residents and less easily avoided. Local income tax will be an added burden to honest hardworking voters and a bonus for the very wealthy and those in the black economy. Local income tax is another gimmick conjured up by self serving politicians who disregard the true consequences of their proposals.
E Woods

I am surprised that Money Box is looking at this and if this programme is positive about local income tax replacing council tax it will be a first for a UK BBC programme. Most are ante the SNP. I think that it is one of the excellent policies which are moving the SNP so far ahead of Labour here in Scotland. I hope the UK government does the same. Can I suggest that Money Box has a look at Scottish income tax, road tax, oil & gas revenues, water sales etc. and compares it with the Barnett settlement of this year?
Alex, Skelmorlie, Ayrshire

If this were to happen my council tax would increase by a factor of three. I live in a shared house with three other working people; the council tax is divided by four which is about 360 each a year. A 3% extra tax would be 945 a year for me, an extra 585 for nothing. A real cash cow for local governments who have a restrictive house building policy.
David Young, Reading

Another swingeing tax on "labour" not "capital". Incredibly unfair as "labour", (all us PAYE & NI paying drones, already taxed at nearly 45% in reality) already pay far too much. "Capital" (those who own everything/inherit everything) pay very little. This will be another gift for those with "capital", just as it has been gifted a 18% flat rate capital gains tax.
Mark Blackburn, London

A local income tax on all residents including non-doms would bring natural justice that has so long eluded the UK local tax system
Brian Edmonds, Farnham

Fortunately Scotland has a democratic Parliament based upon proportional representation. This is why it has to consider "unfairness". A local income tax on all residents including non-doms would bring natural justice that has so long eluded the UK local tax system.
Brian Edmonds, Farnham

Whilst I would welcome council tax being switched to a local income tax, as on the Liberal Democrat model, it would cut mine by some two thirds, it would inevitably produce the same backlash as the Poll Tax. As local democracy is largely an illusion, the simplest solution is for central government to fund the whole amount.
Tony Knight, Durham


The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.



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SEE ALSO
Local income tax plan under fire
13 Mar 08 |  Scotland
'Challenging' local tax unveiled
11 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Scotland's council tax bills 2008
22 Feb 08 |  Scotland
English council taxes rise by 4%
27 Mar 08 |  Business
External internet links
04 Apr 08 |  Moneybox


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