Scottish Parliament considers hefty tax hike on second homes
Scottish authorities may soon have the power to levy up to double the full rate of council tax on second homes if draft regulations before the Scottish Parliament are approved.
If approved, local authorities would be able to apply the council tax premium on homes that are not used as a main residence.
This change, a Programme for Government commitment, attracted majority support in a joint consultation with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). It will bring second homes into line with long-term empty homes from 1 April 2024.
In the 2024-25 financial year, it will be based on rates from 2023-24.
Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur said: “We want everyone in Scotland to have a home that meets their needs. We know second homes can sometimes benefit local communities, but they can also restrict the availability of housing and increase costs for people who want to rent or buy.
“Subject to approval by Parliament, this legislation aims to prioritise housing for living in by allowing local authorities to charge a council tax premium on second homes. Backed by a majority of respondents to our joint consultation with COSLA, it will enable councils to seek a fair contribution towards local services from second-home owners.”
COSLA resources spokesperson councillor Katie Hagmann said: “Subject to Parliamentary approval, COSLA very much welcomes the ability for councils to take the decision to increase the premium on second homes in their areas.
“Allowing the politicians who are closest to their communities to take decisions about what best suits local needs and circumstances is well aligned to the Verity House Agreement.”
Statistics indicate that as of September 2022, Scotland has 24,287 second homes, which have traditionally enjoyed a 50% council tax discount, although many local authorities opt to charge the full rate. The proposed regulations would be based on the 2023-24 tax rates and, if passed, represent a significant policy shift empowering local decision-making in Scottish housing and fiscal matters.