Wealth Tax

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 13 December 2023.

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Photo of Mercedes Villalba Mercedes Villalba Labour

4. To ask the Scottish Government what action it has taken to develop a wealth tax. (S6O-02873)

Photo of Tom Arthur Tom Arthur Scottish National Party

Any approach to wealth taxes must either consider the limits of tax powers that are currently devolved to the Scottish Parliament or seek agreement between the Scottish and United Kingdom Parliaments to devolve further tax powers to create a new tax.

We believe that powers should be devolved to this Parliament, so that the taxation of wealth can be redesigned to work fairly and effectively in a modern, Scotland-specific context. We consider all tax proposals that are in line with our framework for tax, as well as our commitment to progressivity and fairness, to ensure that those with the broadest shoulders contribute the most.

Photo of Mercedes Villalba Mercedes Villalba Labour

In September, the First Minister said that he would consider a wealth tax

,:

but his Government has already had 16 years in power and wealth remains concentrated in the hands of a few. Can the minister confirm what discussions the Scottish Government has had with the Scottish Trades Union Congress about its wealth tax proposals and when the First Minister’s consideration will turn into real action on a wealth tax? [

Interruption

.]

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Before I call the minister to respond, can we not have conversations across front benches, please? It is disrespectful to the person who is asking the question.

Photo of Tom Arthur Tom Arthur Scottish National Party

We are committed to considering carefully all the proposals that the STUC has put forward.

The specific STUC proposal, as I understand it, is for a local wealth tax that would be administered locally and at the discretion of local authorities. We have, per our commitments to local government, embarked on a programme of work on fiscal empowerment. I have made reference to the regulations that have been introduced regarding the council tax treatment of second homes; we also have the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill progressing through Parliament. That bill would create a discretionary power, and any further powers for local government would, by their nature, have to be discretionary, recognising our commitments in that area.

The introduction of a national wealth tax, which is perhaps what the member and others would like to see, would require the agreement of the UK Government and the UK Parliament. I do not want to be presumptuous, but I do not think that the Conservatives subscribe to that idea. I know that the Labour Party does not subscribe to it, because Rachel Reeves has said as much.

Photo of Ivan McKee Ivan McKee Scottish National Party

The biggest part of wealth is held in property assets, and everyone recognises that council tax is hugely regressive. Given the Scottish Government’s commitment to progressive taxation, what work has it done on evaluating the percentage of property value that a proportionate property tax would need to be set at in order to be revenue neutral? What percentage of council taxpayers would pay less than they currently do as a consequence of such a tax?

Photo of Tom Arthur Tom Arthur Scottish National Party

I am not in a position to provide specific details of what those hypothetical costings would entail. However, we are committed, as I mentioned in my earlier answers, to working constructively with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, through the joint working group, to look at options for reform of the council tax. I am more than happy to engage with any member who wants to bring forward constructive proposals on which we, in partnership with local government, can work together to seek to deliver.