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Tax plan's on track

16 March 15

With just a few weeks remaining until the first Scotland-only tax for more than three centuries comes into effect, preparations are going well for the big day

by Eleanor Emberson

We have had another month of milestones for Revenue Scotland and, with less than four weeks to go until we begin to administer Scotland’s devolved taxes, we are on track for our launch on 1 April.

The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) roadshows were completed and, in total, more than 600 solicitors, paralegals, and tax professionals attended the seven events we ran across Scotland. This has set the tone for Revenue Scotland’s approach to stakeholder engagement for the future. We valued the opportunity to meet our end-users face-to-face, and took a lot away from the questions asked and comments made. For those who missed the roadshows, or the webinar we ran at the end of February, a video of our Edinburgh event is available on our new YouTube channel. I am very grateful to the video unit at Registers of Scotland for their help with this.

Sign-up for the online portal for the LBTT became available on 16 February through our website, www.revenue.scot, where you will also find guidance for the process of signing up. This portal allows solicitors and other stakeholders to sign up to use the online returns portal from 1 April. At the time of writing, less than two weeks after “go-live”, the reaction to the portal has been overwhelmingly positive, with more than 500 users from more than 130 firms signing up to date.

  • For those RoS e-services users with LRA permissions on ARTL, these details can be used to sign up immediately online and receive administrator permissions. These allow users to set up users within their firm, and assign them different permissions.
  • For firms or individuals without those permissions on ARTL, there are two other potential routes:
  • Companies or individuals registered with Companies House can use their registration number with Companies House to sign up. This process involves an activation code being sent out in the post, and will take up to five working days.
  • Unincorporated bodies can also register to use the portal, although due to the need for manual verification processes, up to 10 working days should be allowed to receive an activation code.

I would strongly encourage any firms who plan to be making online LBTT returns from 1 April to ensure they have undertaken the sign-up process to the portal as soon as possible and by 20 March at the latest. Of course, we will be doing everything we can to make sure everyone who signs up for the portal in advance of 1 April is fully set up, but if users need any technical assistance or need an activation code to be sent by post, that may well take several working days. Better to be safe and start the sign-up process as early as you can.

On the same day that the portal opened for sign-up, we published the guidance for LBTT and the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act. Currently available in a downloadable PDF format, the guidance will shortly be web-enabled. It can be found, along with a link to the jointly-written transitional guidance for SDLT/LBTT, at our website, www.revenue.scot

The Guidance was drafted with welcome input from the Law Society of Scotland, ICAS and CIOT, and we are confident therefore that you will find it a useful body of information to assist in completing LBTT returns. If having consulted the guidance you feel you require clarification on certain aspects of its content, do get in touch with us, either by contacting our support desk (0300 0200 310) or by emailing us: LBTT@revenue.scot.

For complex queries relating to a specific transaction or if having consulted the guidance you are still unsure as to the interpretation of the guidance, you can write to Revenue Scotland for an opinion. Our Opinions policy is set out on the website.

I think it would be worthwhile me finishing by covering some of the frequently asked questions from our Roadshow events, the bulk of which related specifically to the sign-up process or our returns form:

Q: There is a requirement for a three-yearly return for leases under LBTT. Will Revenue Scotland be sending out reminders to taxpayers and their agents?
A: It is the taxpayer’s statutory responsibility to make the returns. We would encourage agents to explain this requirement to clients at the beginning of a lease. Revenue Scotland cannot take responsibility for reminding taxpayers of their obligations.

Q: How do taxpayers sign the declaration on the online return?
A: There is no electronic signature on the online form. The check box of the declaration is for agents to complete, although the completed return can be saved as a PDF file and printed off for the taxpayer to keep, or for the agent to request the taxpayer sign and then file for their own records.

Q: There is no SDLT 5 equivalent under LBTT. How is the tax return and title information matched up?
A: Revenue Scotland will send a data feed of completed returns across to Registers of Scotland on a regular basis throughout the course of the working day. This data will be interrogated by RoS and the correct tax return marked accordingly. The process removes the need for an SDLT 5 equivalent. RoS have been testing this process with a test caseload of 170,000 user details to ensure that the implementation in live operation will be smooth.

This will be the last article for the Journal before Revenue Scotland goes live and begins administering the devolved taxes. We will continue to work closely with the Society and others to ensure the processing of LBTT returns is as simple and efficient as possible. In the meantime, you can contact us by:

  • phoning our Support Desk on 0300 0200 310 for any queries on using our systems or submitting returns;
  • emailing us at LBTT@revenue.scot with any queries on our technical guidance; or
  • writing to us using the checklist and address shown on our website at www.revenue.scot/help/revenue-scotland-opinions if you need an opinion from us on a transaction where you see there is ambiguity in the correct tax treatment.

The work of Revenue Scotland is just beginning, and I look forward to updating you on more milestones as we reach them in the future.

Eleanor Emberson, Head of Revenue Scotland 

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