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After the launch

18 May 15

Revenue Scotland page: Revenue Scotland is grateful to everyone who helped make the 1 April launch possible, and will continue to work with service users as it develops further systems

by Eleanor Emberson

It’s not often you can truly say you’ve made history but, on 1 April, that’s just what we did as Revenue Scotland began to collect the first Scottish taxes in more than 300 years.

I say “we” have made history quite deliberately. It would not have been possible to establish Revenue Scotland, or the administration of the two taxes at all, without the advice, support and co-operation of a very large number of people. Many members of the Law Society of Scotland have given us hours of their time, and we have had very substantial help from other professional bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Taxation and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. Everyone who has attended a Devolved Tax Collaborative meeting or responded to consultations has contributed, as have HMRC colleagues, who worked with us to ensure a smooth transition. In particular, the help of the solicitors, paralegals and others in the design and testing of our IT system was invaluable, and I’m really pleased that, with that help, we were able to develop a system that was reported to be “user-friendly and intuitive”.

It was a huge task to distil this input and use it to develop effective tax collection. I am immensely proud of all the people in Revenue Scotland, Scottish Government, Registers of Scotland and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency who have worked so hard over the last two and a half years to ensure we reached this point – and, obviously, the hard work does not stop now.

Still learning and evolving

It is absolutely essential to Revenue Scotland’s success that we continue to draw on all the expertise and experience of the Law Society and others in the months and years ahead. We are holding our next Devolved Tax Collaborative meeting on 15 May, and we intend to keep this going twice a year as an opportunity to discuss further developments and take feedback on how we are doing from as wide a range of taxpayers and professionals dealing with tax as possible.

We will be explaining at the DTC our plans to establish more frequent meetings of technical subgroups – a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Forum and a Scottish Landfill Tax Forum – and we will be seeking nominations for these subgroups shortly. We also want to take feedback at the DTC on how we are doing with aspects of our service, including our Scottish Electronic Tax System (SETS), and using that to try to develop our arrangements further. One of the advantages of being a very small and very new tax authority is that we can take feedback and make changes more easily, so we want to make the very most of that.

One particular point to highlight at this stage is that a pilot is underway on the facility for direct debit payments for the devolved taxes. Four firms have very generously volunteered for this pilot, and we are working with them to ensure we have a smooth and effective direct debit payment system, so that we can begin to roll that out to other firms. More information on how to arrange direct debit payments for your firm will be available on our website when the wider implementation gets underway.

Secure communications

We will be publishing monthly statistics on our performance and the tax collected, and updating information about Revenue Scotland regularly. As you would expect, you will find all of that on our website at www.revenue.scot, and you can find information there about how to contact us by phone (our support desk number is 0300 020 0310), by post or by email. Where you need to contact us about an individual case and need to share taxpayer information, we are committed to ensuring this information is properly protected. For now, our advice is to use post rather than email to contact us about any issue where you need to share taxpayer information. We will shortly start promoting an enhanced secure messaging solution featuring the ability to attach documents which you can use within SETS, our online system, and we will be encouraging you to use that as the fastest, most secure means of contacting us.

This is the last of our monthly columns in the Journal for now, but certainly not the end of our communications. I look forward to working with you to make Revenue Scotland the best tax authority it can be.  

Eleanor Emberson, Head of Revenue Scotland

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