Scottish referendum turnout could help councils recoup millions in unpaid tax

Catherine Neilan
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Scottish independence: The high turnout has given councils a helping hand in recovering unpaid tax (Source: Getty)

The Scottish referendum could be helping councils north of the border track down millions in unpaid council and poll tax.

The independence vote saw an unprecedented level of engagement from voters – 97 per cent of those who were eligible to register did so, and turn-out reached 85 per cent.
Across Scotland, nearly 4.3 million people registered to vote.
But the unintended consequence of those clamouring to have their say on the future of the union could be that they now face tax bills going back to the 1990s.
Council chiefs are reportedly “trawling through the electoral roll” in a bid to track people down who have evaded the two forms of tax, including poll tax, which was introduced in Scotland in 1989 – a year earlier than England and Wales - before being scrapped in 1993.
Estimates suggest £300m is still owed to Scottish councils from unpaid poll tax. The council tax bill is also thought to reach into the hundreds of millions, with Edinburgh reportedly owed £50m alone.
An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman told the Scotsman's Edinburgh News it could pursue unpaid debts through the additions to the electoral roll.
“The council uses all the data available to it to collect outstanding debts,” she said.

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