Scottish Property Tax Reform (SPTR) is a network of interested individuals and organisations who believe that a well-designed system of property taxation can and should play an important role in public finance, the economy and a fair society.

Scottish Property Tax Reform principles:

We believe that a fair system of property tax should form the basis of local government taxation because:

  • Property is fixed and space, is immobile, and so is easy to tax. This means that, unlike many other taxes, property taxes can’t be dodged by wealthy people by moving themselves or their companies abroad. They have to pay their share along with everyone else.
  • Property taxes can help to make housing more affordable – reversing the trend that has priced more and more people being out of housing.
  • Property taxes reduce boom-and-bust cycles in the housing market. These cycles allow a few people to get rich, but at the cost of leaving thousands of people in negative equity and having their homes repossessed when prices fall.
  • Property taxes help society to recoup some of the benefits that some people receive because they are lucky enough to live close to new infrastructure or other amenities. They do this because the value of property rises when the area they’re located in benefits from public investment.
  • Property taxes encourage people to invest in the productive economy, ensuring a prosperous future for us all. We all know that ever more inflated house prices doesn’t make us any better off in the long run.

A well-designed property tax should incorporate the following principles.

  • Property taxes should be revalued automatically and frequently. One of the reasons the Council Tax is unfair is that it is based on property values that are nearly a quarter of a century out of date. You wouldn’t expect to pay income tax based on what you earned in 1991!
  • Property taxes can be designed better to deal with anomalies that have been found with previous forms of local taxes:
  •  Direct help toward low-income households
  •  Deferring tax payments for asset rich/ cash poor households
  •  Regular statutory revaluations
  •  Combining property and other taxes, as is common elsewhere, to raise the   same yield.

If you’re still not convinced, think of it the other way round – not taxing property will simply encourage more wealth holding and speculative activity in property simply because it is untaxed.  Remember it was lending on the property market that led to the Global Financial Crisis. Stoking it up again is not the solution.

Current members are:-

Professor Glen Bramley, Heriot-Watt University.
Dr David Comerford, University of Stirling
Professor Mike Danson, Heriot-Watt University.
Professor Jim Gallagher, Nuffield College, Oxford.
Professor Ken Gibb, University of Glasgow.
Professor Richard Kerley, Queen Margaret University.
Shelter Scotland
Professor Mark Stephens, Heriot-Watt University. (Convenor)
Andy Wightman, Independent writer & researcher.

Views expressed in blogs and briefings are the views of the relevant authors unless otherwise stated.

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