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Sturgeon’s SHAME: SNP leader accused of ‘hypocrisy’ for NOT paying council tax …


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Sturgeon’s SHAME: SNP leader accused of ‘hypocrisy’ for NOT paying council tax

NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of hypocrisy for not paying council tax on her official residence despite imposing hikes that leave some families £600 a year worse off.

PUBLISHED: 00:01, Thu, May 4, 2017 | UPDATED: 14:03, Thu, May 4, 2017

The First Minister is now under renewed pressure to foot a bill of up to £2,950 a year on her grace-and-favour Georgian mansion in Edinburgh.

As a working premises, Bute House, in Charlotte Square, is liable for business rates of around £36,752, which is paid by the Scottish Government. Both Ms Sturgeon and predecessor Alex Salmond criticised former Labour leader Jack McConnell for failing to pay the levy when he lived there.Before being swept to power, Mr Salmond pledged to start paying the tax if he led the Nationalists to victory in 2007.

Nicola Sturgeon looking fed upGETTY•PA

Nicola Sturgeon is accused of not paying council tax in her Edinburgh home

He accused Mr McConnell of “setting a bad example” while Ms Sturgeon called it “absolutely outrageous”.But neither have lived up to the promise.

As Scots prepared to vote in today’s council elections, Tories urged Ms Sturgeon to rethink her stance. It comes after many local authorities increased council tax by three per cent in April following the end of the decade-long freeze. All households in Bands E-H also pay significantly more because of Government reforms. The changes leave some families £612 a year worse off.

Nicola Sturgeon scratching her eyeSWNS

The SNP countered by explaining the property pay 10 times more than a residential home

Highlighting the SNP’s abandoned pledge to scrap the levy Miles Briggs, the Scottish Conservatives’ general election candidate in Edinburgh South West, said: “It appears that the only person the SNP have abolished council tax for is their own leader.

This is another example of the SNP saying one thing and doing another

Miles Briggs of the Scottish Conservatives

“This is another example of the SNP saying one thing and doing another. The First Minister should not be an exception. If Nicola Sturgeon thinks her council tax system is fair she should pay it like everyone else.“Under the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon has become the only person in the country to legally dodge the council tax.”

The SNP lambasted Mr McConnell when it emerged that he did not pay the levy on the A-listed property’s private living quarters.

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Alex Salmond smilingGETTY

Ms Sturgeon and Alex Salmond previously attacked Jack McConnell for failing to pay the levy

In October 2006, Ms Sturgeon said: “It is absolutely outrageous.“It is his government that expects pensioners to pay sky-high council tax and I don’t think people will be too happy that he is getting off the hook himself.”

Previous Prime Ministers have paid the levy on Downing Street even though Number 10 was also subject to business rates. Theresa May also pays council tax.

If Bute House was classified as a domestic property, it would fall into the H band of council tax for homes worth more than £212,000. This would make occupants liable for £2,949.97 this year. On that basis, Ms Sturgeon could have paid £5,701.16 since she succeeded Mr Salmond in 2014.

Nicola Sturgeon in HollyroodSWNS

Some Scottish families have been left £600 a year poorer because of Ms Sturgeon’s council tax hikes

The former First Minister was previously said to have asked officials if Bute House, which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, could be split into business and residential sections.But he was told such a move would see Edinburgh Council lose a greater sum in business rates than it would gain in council tax.

A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said: “This is a boomerang attack from the Tories who seem unaware that this issue was examined in detail some time ago.

“By designating Bute House as a commercial property and paying business rates, the City of Edinburgh Council receives more than ten times the revenue than if it were a residential property paying council tax.

“No doubt the Tories would accuse us of tax avoidance were we to pursue such a path – and only the Tory party could be inept enough to call for the City of Edinburgh Council to be stripped of tens of thousands of pounds in non-domestic rates funding the day before a council election.”

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