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Countdown to the devolved taxes

14 April 14

The head of Revenue Scotland begins a series on the taxes to be levied by the Scottish Parliament and the arrangements for their collection

by Eleanor Emberson

You will hardly need me to remind you that the Scotland Act 2012 gives new powers to Scotland, including tax raising powers. This is the first in a series of monthly articles about these tax powers and how they will be used. I would like to introduce Revenue Scotland to those of you who have not been in contact with us directly and to give you a brief overview of the timetable. We plan to write more about Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in May, and about the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers (RSTP) Bill in June.

The Scottish Acts which create Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and Scottish Landfill Tax (SLfT) are now on the statute books, and these devolved taxes will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax and UK Landfill Tax in Scotland from April 2015.

The Scottish Parliament is currently considering the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill, which sets out the proposed tax management framework for devolved taxes, the rights and responsibilities of taxpayers, and the establishment of Revenue Scotland as an independent body with responsibility for tax collection.

As you will see from the timeline in the box below, there is also a significant amount of secondary legislation to be prepared. The phased consultation will start shortly with the LBTT secondary legislation. The final stage of consideration of the RSTP Bill is scheduled for August, and we expect that the secondary legislation will all be consulted on, scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament and (subject to Parliament’s approval) passed by the end of 2014. We will be drafting guidance as quickly as we can, following the legislative timetable.

Integrated arrangements

Since John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, announced nearly two years ago the intention to set up Revenue Scotland, he has been very clear about the principles on which taxes in Scotland would be established:

  • proportionate to the ability to pay;
  • certainty;
  • convenience;
  • efficiency.

In developing the Scottish approach to tax, he has been very clear with Revenue Scotland that we must work closely with taxpayers and their agents in developing arrangements that meet these principles.

One important consequence of the principle of convenience to the taxpayer is that Revenue Scotland is working with Registers of Scotland on collection of LBTT to integrate this with arrangements for registration of title, and with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency on collection of SLfT to integrate this with the licensing and regulation of landfill sites.

Revenue Scotland itself is a team working within Scottish Government, but the RSTP Bill, as currently drafted, would see it established as an independent statutory body in early 2015, ready for collection of LBTT and SLfT to begin from April 2015.
I took up post in October 2012 and I will see the development of the tax collection arrangements through to live operation. Nicky Harrison joined us from HMRC, as chief operating officer, in June 2013. Later this year, a chair and members of the board of Revenue Scotland will be appointed, following competition, and the board will appoint a permanent chief executive for Revenue Scotland in due course.

Society collaboration

Members of the Law Society of Scotland’s Tax Committee, chaired by Isobel d’Inverno, have been very active in helping shape the arrangements for collection of the two new taxes, contributing to the public consultations and parliamentary scrutiny process, but also working with us through ad hoc groups and the Devolved Tax Collaborative (DTC). The DTC is a group which I chair, drawing together a range of professional practitioners and some lay people with an interest in ensuring that the tax collection arrangements work well in practice.

If you would be interested in attending meetings of the DTC, or even just finding out more about what is on the agenda, please do contact us by emailing RevenueScotland@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Look out also for the consultations on the secondary legislation, which will start shortly. We rely on your feedback as experienced practitioners to make sure we are developing tax arrangements that will work well for all taxpayers in Scotland.

Eleanor Emberson, Head of Revenue Scotland

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