Mackay plans consultation on local tourist tax

11 Oct 18

Scottish finance secretary Derek Mackay has set out plans to consult on a discretionary local visitor tax ahead of the draft budget.

Addressing the annual conference of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities in St Andrews, Mackay said he was open to further dialogue on options for local tax reform.

“I don’t fear local empowerment or more fiscal autonomy for local government at all – I actually think it has great potential,” he said.

Giving councils the power to levy a tourism tax was “a serious issue for debate” as budget negotiations got underway.

“Local government can see the revenue raising potential of a tourist tax, but equally…there are voices of concern within the tourism sector,” said Mackay.

As a result, a series of round tables would take place in the run up to publication of the Scottish draft budget in December to explore the implications of introduction of a discretionary levy.

“We remain committed to making local taxation more progressive while improving the financial accountability of local government,” he said.

Speaking earlier, Cosla president Alison Evison said councils needed longer term financial planning and “real flexibility” over local taxation.

“We need a more sophisticated debate about sustainable funding for local government and that must include local government having the right financial levers to respond to communities,” she said.

That included consideration of consideration of discretionary local taxation such as a visitor levy. “Issues of taxation have to be looked at, not avoided,” she said.

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