Feedback sought on private school tax plans

Third Force News, by Gareth Jones

A consultation has been launched on plans which could see private schools lose their charitable status.

It was announced at the end of 2017 that independent schools would lose out on the on the back of the Barclay Review into business rates.

A new bill which aims to bring forward some of the reforms suggested is set to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in the coming months.

Politicians are now seeking feedback on the proposals, which include reducing the current five-year valuation cycle for businesses to three years and measures aimed at improving the administration of the system.

The bill recommends independent schools should no longer be able to claim charitable relief, which would amount to around £37m between 2020 and 2025.

Under the current system, independent schools with charitable status pay 20% of their rates bill, while local authorities have the discretion to charge them nothing at all.

The planned legislation will be examined by the Local Government and Communities Committee.

Committee convener James Dornan said: “Non-domestic rates are the second highest revenue-raising tax in Scotland and these reforms could affect a great number of people.

“We are keen to hear the views of potentially affected organisations and members of the public about the proposed changes to the system, and whether the government has addressed the issues raised in the Barclay Review.

“We also want to know if people think anything else should be included in this Bill or if more radical reform of the system is needed.

“We look forward to hearing what the public has to say and using the evidence to ensure our inquiry is as robust as possible.”

Private schools have hit out at the plans, and last month it was revealed the changes could cost them as much as £7 million a year.