Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP is playing find the lady, or in this case find the tax, with his plan to switch from Council Tax to a Local Income Tax (LIT).
What this will do is threefold
1. It will consolidate the burden upon the working and middle classes and allow the rich to reduce their exposure. It might have the benefit of relieving those who are not poor enough to get support for Council Tax today, but the money must come from somewhere, so I doubt it. The poor who get relief from Council Tax will either pay LIT, so their costs go UP or they are to keep getting refunds or relief. If the lower income brackets are unaffected while the top can bypass it, logically it means that the 3% will hit the middle and upper middle hardest. As usual*.
2. It will be a blunt instrument, finally centralising revenue collection and distribution at Hollyrood, for each geography will have a disparity between income tax collected and cost of provision. I suspect areas with many wealthy residents will need less social housing, less police, less damage to council property, lower social services and lower benefits payments per head. How the horse-trading will occur is not clear. If anything it might result in calling a spade a spade and realising that the vast majority of council spending is controlled and dictated by the centre anyway. Alex Salmond might inadvertently be doing the right thing.
3. The true cost will be obscured and local accountability for same will be broken. A flat 3% income tax will finally turn local council fiscal accountability from the residents to Hollyrood. Local people will not be able to use their vote in local elections to influence spending while at the same time it will be "lost" in the income tax system, drawn out slowly like blood by a bloodsucking parasite you do not see in plain view. Some might say this is a good thing, as locals who pay nothing will not be voting in those who promise to spend ever greater sums of other peoples' money on them. However, I do not think this problem will be solved, it will just be placed in another bucket of slops along with a raft of new problems that this proposal creates.
At least this will bring the whole issue of local authority financing back into the arena. Approximately 80% of local spending is financed centrally. He who pays the piper should call the tune. Either collect more locally and have local control and accountability OR collect it centrally and RUN it centrally, without any funding passing through the sticky fingers at a local level - the prime example of this would be Education.
Alex Salmond has not so much upset the applecart as kicked over a full bucket of night soil. The mess will be for all to see, the stink unavoidable, yet it might mean we get a chance to sort out the plumbing once and for all, though I doubt it.
* Can someone explain to me how a middle class person consumes more street lighting, parks or road sweeping? There is a good chance that they do not consume as much educational resources as a group, for some pay twice yet consume once outside the state system.