Adviser urges change

Tax reform needed ‘to boost property sector’

John Swinney head shotTax reform and simplification is needed to boost growth in Scotland’s fragile property and construction sector, according to business advisers and accountants Grant Thornton.

The firm has welcomed recent action by the Scottish Government designed to boost the sector, including simplified planning zones.

But, it warns that the industry faces an uncertain future if a number of challenges are not addressed.

The Land and Buildings Transactions Tax (LBTT), introduced by former Finance Secretary John Swinney (pictured) to replace stamp duty land tax (SDLT), has raised more than £416m.

But Grant Thornton says many firms who are already facing a number of challenges in the current uncertain market are suffering from a lack of seeding relief and issues with sub-sale development relief.

Chris Smith, tax manager at Grant Thornton, said: “The Scottish Government deserves a lot of credit for recognising many of the issues stymying growth in the property and construction sector.

“Many recent reforms have provided a shot in the arm for the industry and encouraged growth particularly for first time buyers. But, this is only the first step in what must be a prolonged effort to tackle chronic issues that risk creating long term damage.

“The industry has been calling for action to address red tape and bureaucracy for many years and the devolution of more tax powers to Edinburgh provides a golden opportunity for Scotland to try a completely new approach.

“The key to success will be ensuring that the reforms don’t simply add greater bureaucracy, but instead create a more transparent, simplified structure that is focused on growth and long term sustainability.”

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