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Politician says £10m tax may be avoided via short lets in one city alone

Green Party politician Andy Wightman claims that £10.6m in taxes are being avoided this year due to the boom in private homes being let out as holiday accommodation.

Wightman, a member of the Scottish Parliament, says he has been inundated with correspondence from constituents concerned about the loss of housing supply and an increase in anti-social behaviour. 

If a property is let for more than 140 days it becomes liable for non-domestic rates rather than council tax but only half of all such properties are declared, he claims. If a property has a rateable value of less than £15,000, the Scottish Government provides 100 per cent relief under the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

Wightman contends that 83 per cent of short-term lets in Edinburgh that are declared for non-domestic rates have a rateable value below £15,000 and therefore don't pay non-domestic rates.

If all short-term lets over 140 days per year paid non-domestic rates, this would generate £10.6m in additional tax revenue.

“There is no justification for short term lets being exempted from paying £10.6m in taxes to help meet the considerable costs of public services in Edinburgh. Thanks to this scheme and the failure to declare properties as short-term lets, landlords - many of whom are overseas investors - profit from these services without contributing a penny” says Wightman.

"I have been inundated by constituents concerned that the growth of holiday lets is causing more anti-social behaviour and denies people access to good quality housing for long term rent. It is time to bring short-term lets under fully into the planning system and give the council the powers to protect the availability of residential accommodation for the citizens of the city" he adds.

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