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Last Updated: Friday, 12 March, 2004, 16:02 GMT
Greens unveil land tax proposals
Mark Ballard
Mark Ballard claims the new land tax could boost regeneration
The Scottish Green Party has unveiled plans to scrap the council tax and introduce a levy based on land values.

The Greens' land value tax would be paid locally and would be calculated on the value of land.

Under the system the owners of prime locations would pay more than those owning marginal and run-down land.

The tax could also boost re-generation as owners who develop their land would pay less compared to those who sit on derelict and under-developed land.

Onus on owners

Under the new system, the actual bill would be sent to owners rather than tenants with any increases passed on through higher rents.

Poor pensioners and those on low incomes who own wealthy properties would be able to defer payment and pay the outstanding debt when their property is sold or developed.

The party's proposals are the latest initiative in a growing campaign to ditch the current council tax system introduced by the Tories to replace the community charge.

Proposal lodged

Green finance spokesman Mark Ballard said Labour and Liberal Democrat MSPs might back their idea, which would give it a majority in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Ballard has lodged the proposal in parliament and now needs 11 signatures of support from MSPs before he can draw up a draft Bill and run a public consultation.

He said: "They know they have a problem defending the current council tax system but I think they want to keep a property tax that brings out social and economic benefits and that's where the land tax system comes in."

The party also says the measures would cool the housing market and help first-time buyers by promoting development.

Council tax protest
There have been protests against the current tax system
The proposal has already won the backing of Peter Gibb, the chief executive of social and economic think-tank, the Henry George Foundation.

He said: "We have examined the different options for local government finance in Scotland and believe taxing land values would bring significant economic, social and environmental benefits."

Similar systems of land taxation already operate in Denmark, South Africa, Jamaica and Australia.

The Greens' move came the day after the Scottish Parliament refused to back a Scottish Socialist Party call to dump the council tax and replace it with an income-based Scottish service tax.

MSPs voted instead for an executive amendment which proposed an independent review of local government finance to examine various forms of local taxation.

While earlier this month Scottish National Party leader John Swinney unveiled his own local income tax plans under his "axe the tax" campaign.

Socialists lose council tax vote
11 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Alliance holding back axe on tax
06 Mar 04  |  Scotland
SNP unveils 'axe the tax' plan
05 Mar 04  |  Scotland

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