Our message to the Scottish Government is very simple – make the tax system simpler.
The complexity, obscurity and constant changes to our laws are bad for business and make our job, as accountants, harder by the year.
That’s why we’re standing behind The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) and The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) who have been putting pressure on the Scottish Government to clarify the tax process in this country.
Their priorities are threefold:
- Strengthening decision-making.
- Developing a more structured approach to introducing and reforming taxes.
- Improving awareness and understanding of the Scottish Parliament’s tax powers.
Each would have their own benefits to you, our clients, as well as the wider business environment in Scotland.
Here’s why we are standing behind each recommendation:
Strengthening decision making
We want there to be more effective consideration of Scotland-specific tax laws by both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood).
Reviving the Devolved Taxes Legislation Working Group would address the limited time available for tax scrutiny in Parliament, the need for regular legislative updates, and the inclusion of expert advice in the process.
This could really benefit Scottish businesses by ensuring tax laws are current, practical, and tailored to the unique economy of Scotland.
The accuracy of tax laws implemented would, hopefully, prevent constant flip-flopping and give us a more structured basis from which to plan your business’s tax liabilities.
A more structured approach to introducing and reforming taxes
We want tax laws to be thoroughly consulted upon with key stakeholders to ensure their strategic coherence and compatibility with both Scottish and UK tax systems.
Is that too much to ask for? From the people elected to represent us – we think not.
We’re also asking the Scottish and UK Governments to use the Smith Commission's tenth anniversary, in 2024, as an opportunity to assess the powers granted to Holyrood, with a special focus on resolving issues that hinder the implementation of certain taxes.
In essence, we want to see clear and open decision-making that considers the broader tax landscape and the interests of various parties when the Scottish Government implements taxes.
Again, this would help develop a more secure environment for businesses to operate within Scotland, which obviously benefits the broader economy in the long run.
Improving the public’s understanding of Scottish tax powers
In my role at Scholes CA, and as VP of ICAS, I’m passionate about education.
That’s why we are calling for joint efforts by the Scottish Government and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to provide updated and clear guidance on Income Tax differences and available reliefs for the public.
We’re also suggesting incorporating tax education into secondary and tertiary curriculums, using HMRC’s ‘Tax Facts’ campaign as a template.
Let’s start being proactive with tax education. Let’s teach our youngsters how the system works and foster a cohort that can accurately and effectively manage their finances!
We also want more collaboration between the Scottish Government, tax professionals, and charities to expand tax assistance programmes for low-income groups.
In essence, we are asking the Scottish Government to put some effort into enhancing public understanding and accessibility of tax information, ensuring taxpayers are well-informed and supported by our elected officials.
On that note…
While we want the Scottish Government to help educate the public about tax, we recognise that many of you will have questions of your own.
In the spirit of our recommendations to the Scottish Government, we are willing to answer your questions about Income, Capital Gains, Inheritance, or any other personal tax you might have.
In addition, if you’re a business owner and you have queries about the liabilities your company might have, or you simply want to find out if you are paying too much or too little tax, we can help with that too.