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“A Route Map to a Fair Independent Scotland”

The Social Justice and Fairness Commission (“established by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon MSP in September 2019. It comprises both SNP members and independent contributors and we have had the privilege of leading its work.”) has published its report (h/t JD from the Scottish Land Revenue Group, not to be confused with Annual Ground Rent – a fairer way for an independant Scotland, who can’t spell “independent”).

The 100-page report has two pages on Land Value Tax. It’s good supportive stuff and they’ve thought about the practicalities, for example they point out that the Council Tax system could be modified to be much closer to LVT, and that Poor Widows In Mansions could be simply allowed to defer tax payments until death and it could be collected from their estates. They also say that they prefer LVT to a “Wealth Tax” (although they don’t rule it out).

So what’s stopping them? The SNP likes to talk about all the things they would do if Scotland were independent – the Report is headed “A Route Map to a Fair Independent Scotland”, but as far as tax-raising powers are concerned, they already can implement LVT:

1. The Scottish government can set their own income tax rates, they could reduce them to nil if they wished.
2. The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax is Scotland’s version of Stamp Duty Land Tax. They could just scrap it if they wanted to.
3. Council Tax valuations and bandings are a devolved matter (Wales and Northern Ireland did their own revaluations a while back).
4. The actual amount of Council Tax payable on any home is an arbitrary amount i.e. arbitrarily decided Band D tax for that area, adjusted up or down to larger or smaller homes. All they really need to do is set Band D tax in each area proportional to the average site premium of homes in that area which are in Band D; you can do that without even bothering with valuations.
5. Scotland can set its own multiplier for Business Rates (which is so close to LVT as makes no difference).

Or is it the case that the SNP couldn’t care less about having a “Fair Scotland” unless it’s independent as well?