Opinion Former Article

"Time is right” for Scottish tax policy review

The Chartered Institute of Taxation has welcomed the publication of a Scottish Government consultation aimed at improving devolved tax policy making.

With a CIOT poll last year finding that four-fifths of Scots need better information over how taxes are decided in Scotland, the Institute added that any proposals for change should also set out to improve awareness of tax changes among the general public.

The document, Devolved Taxes: a policy framework, was published by the Scottish Government earlier this week with the aim of ensuring a “clearer approach to tax policy-making” in Scotland.

The consultation process will be accompanied by the establishment of a Working Group of representatives from government, parliament and the tax profession, including CIOT. The group will be tasked with exploring alternative legislative processes for devolved tax legislation.

This could include the introduction of an annual Scottish Finance Bill, a piece of legislation that the CIOT and other professional organisations have previously suggested could help to improve tax policy scrutiny.

Alexander Garden, chair of the CIOT’s Scottish Technical Committee, said:

“A hallmark of the devolved tax regime has been the constructive and consultative manner with which the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government have engaged with stakeholders – including the tax profession – to ensure robust scrutiny and accountability for tax policy making.

“The increasing importance of the devolved taxes to the Scottish Budget means that the time is right to take stock of the first four years of their operation, consider how they have fared against the principles underpinning the Scottish approach to tax and ensure that the policy process is fit for purpose both now and in the future.

“This would ideally involve examining ways in which public awareness of the devolved taxes can be improved. This can help to ensure more informed decisions by politicians and hopefully ensure better public understanding and support.

“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and others as part of this process.”

Notes for editors

1. A poll commissioned poll by CIOT from Mark Diffley Consulting and Research and undertaken in September 2018, found that 84 per cent of Scots thought they needed better information about how taxes are decided in Scotland (click here for further details)

2. See Enhanced scrutiny of tax legislation key to Scottish budget review (CIOT, 2 May 2017)

3. The Scottish Approach to Taxation is guided by Adam Smith’s four key principles of proportionality, certainty, convenience and efficiency.

4. The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT)

The CIOT is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT is an educational charity, promoting education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of our key aims is to work for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s work covers all aspects of taxation, including direct and indirect taxes and duties. Through our Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG), the CIOT has a particular focus on improving the tax system, including tax credits and benefits, for the unrepresented taxpayer.

The CIOT draws on our members’ experience in private practice, commerce and industry, government and academia to improve tax administration and propose and explain how tax policy objectives can most effectively be achieved. We also link to, and draw on, similar leading professional tax bodies in other countries. The CIOT’s comments and recommendations on tax issues are made in line with our charitable objectives: we are politically neutral in our work.

The CIOT’s 18,700 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’, to represent the leading tax qualification.
Contact: Chris Young, Scotland External Relations Officer, 07900 241 584 / cyoung@ciot.org.uk

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