Law Society of Scotland welcomes proposals for stamp duty changes

The Law Society of Scotland has welcomed the proposals made by the Scottish Government, replacing Stamp Duty Land Tax with a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.  The Law Society will respond to the 12 week consultation.
Powers to create the tax are contained in the Scotland Act 2012.  This Act also allows the Scottish Government to set a Scottish rate of income tax, and raise taxes on land transactions and on waste disposal to landfill.  
John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth stated that the new tax will be based on Scots law, which would remove the problems associated with the current system of land tax due to the differences in property law in the different jurisdictions of the UK.  
Austin Lafferty, Law Society of Scotland President commented:
“This is a particularly welcome announcement from the Cabinet Secretary.  The proposals for a distinct Scottish property and land tax would introduce clarity where there has long been confusion and remove the often unnecessary anxiety and delay for solicitors’ clients who are involved in property transactions.”
Isobel D’Inverno, convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Tax Law Committee said:
“Today’s announcement represents a real opportunity to improve the current system in Scotland.  The proposals take a commonsense approach and promote using existing expertise to replace the current, ill-fitting system of tax, with a better land transaction tax, built on Scots property law.
“The Law Society’s Tax Law and Property Law committees have for many years made numerous representations to HMRC about the problems of applying SDLT to Scottish property transactions and have been instrumental in proposing changes to make the system more workable, including drafting the Scottish Lease chapter of HMRC’s SDLT manual.  However, the opportunities presented by introducing a tailored system that is easier to understand and to apply, would bring a clear benefit to Scottish solicitors and more importantly, to their clients.
“The Law Society’s Tax and Property Law committees are committed to this process and look forward to engaging with the Scottish Government and other interested parties in developing a new system of land tax for Scotland.”
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