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Revenue Scotland Bill passes final stage

20 August 2014

Scotland will have its own tax authority after MSPs passed the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill yesterday.

Revenue Scotland will be responsible for collecting and managing the two devolved taxes, land and buildings transaction tax (the Scottish replacement for stamp duty land tax), and the Scottish landfill tax, when they come into operation on 1 April 2015. There was no division as the bill went through a series of stage 3 amendments before being finally approved.

Moving the bill, Finance Secretary John Swinney pointed out that it places a duty on Revenue Scotland to consult on, prepare and publish a charter that sets out the standards of behaviour and values that will be expected of taxpayers, and which taxpayers can expect of the authority. "That will provide a genuine opportunity for input from stakeholders and the wider public on the nature of the relationship between the taxpayer and the tax authority", he said.

Part 4 of the bill establishes the Scottish tax tribunals, which will comprise a first tier and an upper tier under the leadership of a president. It is intended that, early in 2017, the tax tribunals will become part of the Scottish tribunals, but arrangements need to be in place to hear appeals about the devolved taxes from 1 April 2015.

The bill also contains a general anti-avoidance rule, which Mr Swinney claimed takes "the most robust approach possible to tax avoidance in relation to any devolved taxes". Part 5 provides powers for Revenue Scotland to take action against any such schemes.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Swinney said: “There has been a wide degree of consensus across the political spectrum about the establishment of Revenue Scotland and our approach to the collection and management of devolved taxes.

“I am determined that Revenue Scotland will combat tax avoidance as vigorously and effectively as possible, and the bill contains a wide-ranging general anti-avoidance rule which will allow Revenue Scotland to take robust counteraction against artificial tax avoidance schemes – not just the most abusive end of the spectrum."

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