Write off Scottish poll tax, says IRRV

16 Sep 99
A senior local government finance official in Scotland has suggested that millions of pounds in community charge debts should be written off.

17 September 1999

Sandy Brown, Scottish president of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV), said that as we move into the 21st century, 'the time has come to draw a line under the poll tax'.

Latest figures show that Scottish councils are still owed £484m in poll tax (or community charge) arrears.

Brown told the IRRV Scottish conference in Glasgow last week that the debate surrounding a private bill by Tommy Sheridan, a Scottish Socialist Party member of the Scottish Parliament, calling for the ending of warrant sales (the selling of goods owned by a debtor), presented the chance to consider the future of poll tax debts.

Sheridan was one of the country's leading campaigners against the poll tax, which was introduced in Scotland in 1989 and abolished in 1993. His bill calling for the ending of the 'medieval' system of warrant bills is expected to be supported by the Scottish Executive.

Brown, assistant director of finance at Scottish Borders Council and a member of a Scottish Office/Convention of Scottish Local Authorities working party on council tax collection, said that if Sheridan's objective was to end the legacy of the poll tax once and for all, his bill would not achieve that.

Brown said: 'We have a new tax that is working well. It could work better without the legacy of the poll tax.

'I never thought that, as we approach the millennium, we would still be collecting poll tax arrears.

'As we move into the 21st century, the time has come to draw a line under the poll tax. The debate around Tommy Sheridan's bill presents an opportunity to do that.'


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