Sturgeon launches bid for £550 tax grab

So you think the SNP are the party of low tax? Think again.

MIDDLE class families will be hammered by a new tax set to be pushed through by First Minister-in-waiting Nicola Sturgeon.

And it could see Scotland’s hard-pressed households being forced to fork out up to £550 extra every year.

The Scottish Government is poised to revive its plans for a local income tax within months of her succeeding Alex Salmond.

Details of the scheme to replace council tax will be unveiled ‘later in this parliament’, the Scottish Government confirmed yesterday.

Ministers say the new tax will be “more progressive” and “based on ability to pay”, sparking fears it will target the middle classes.

Miss Sturgeon has previously said that all taxation should be based on the principle of “those with the broadest shoulders contributing more”.

It is estimated the average family would have to pay up to £550 a year more. Scottish Labour local government spokesman, Sarah Boyack said the new tax will come as a blow to families working hard to make ends meet.

She said: “Despite being aware of the true costs of their local income tax, the SNP seem determined to push ahead with punishing hard-working families.

“Their current plans would hit households across the country at a time that pay packets are already being stretched.”

She added: “We need an open, cross-party discussion on how to properly fund local government and we must ensure it is fair and sustainable. The council tax freeze is underfunded and the SNP’s sums simply don’t add up.”

Critics point out that the introduction of a local income tax would hit working families hardest as it is based on people’s incomes rather than the value of their property.

The SNP first unveiled plans to introduce a local income tax of 3p in the pound when they first won power in 2007.

But the plans were dropped when opponents of the then minority government refused to support them.

The Scottish Parliament’s information centre said earlier this year that, if the tax is introduced now, it would have to be set at 5.4p in the pound.

That would mean a worker earning the average Scottish salary of £25,729 would have to pay £849.37 a year, meaning a family-of-two on the average income would face a £1,699 bill, £550 more than the average Band D council tax bill of £1,149.

Scottish Conservatives  economy spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “We already know the SNP’s proposed plans for a local income tax will cost working people and leave less money in their pockets.

“People will be hugely concerned that the Scottish Government appears determined to press ahead with these changes.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We would like to see the introduction of a replacement for the unfair council tax and are committed to develop options for a fairer and more progressive local tax, based on ability to pay, later in this parliament.”

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