WHEN the Scottish Government’s Land and Buildings Transaction Tax was introduced in 2015 as a replacement for Stamp Duty Land Tax, then finance minister John Swinney hailed it as a landmark move that would “benefit the majority of Scots”.

Was he correct? Well, no, not if the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which holds the tax directly responsible for a slowdown in house sales, is to be believed.

The problem is that while the changes mean no tax will be levied on the sale of properties of up to £145,000, anyone buying a house worth £325,000 or more now pays more than under the old system.

On a property valued at £350,000 the tax would equate to £8,350, rising to £23,350 for one valued at £500,000 and £78,250 on a £1 million home.

Those prices may sound huge given the average cost of a house in Scotland still sits below £150,000 - and for first-time buyers they almost certainly are - but for those who have built up some housing wealth they could well be within reach.

A builder-teacher couple earning a combined £60,000 to £70,000 could not be blamed for wanting to upgrade a £140,000 flat bought a decade ago to a £400,000 house to accommodate a growing family.

Ten years’ worth of mortgage payments coupled with an increase in value and a savings pot would give them a nice equity stake, but having to cut the deposit by £13,350 to pay LBTT could well make the move unaffordable.

That is problematic because it cuts the stock available for first-time buyers, whose purchasing power will continue to be eroded by inflation and still-rising house prices - especially if those staying put spend their savings on upgrading their existing homes.

LBTT may have been designed as a stealth way of making the rich pay more tax, but as it is it appears to be little more than a tax on aspiration.

And that, surely, goes against everything modern Scotland is supposed to stand for.