ICAS is right – Scottish tax autonomy needs defining

IN A WEEK dominated by the Public Accounts Committee hearing, it would be easy to for other developments to fly under the radar.

Of course, that could be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at the issues in question.

In the case of ICAS’s report on Scotland’s tax future in the light of its incoming devolved powers, establishment of its own tax authority and potential independence, it is more a curse.

It is an area which needs addressing promptly, given the relatively short timescale on which these developments are operating and the incredible complexity of drawing up a tax code.

Holyrood expects Revenue Scotland will be in place by 2015, and independence will be voted on in 2014, while devolved powers on income tax, stamp duty land tax and landfill tax, and the creation of new taxes are already in place.

There are still issues around the sharing of data between Revenue Scotland and HM Revenue & Customs, which in turn could lead to Scotland being treated in much the same manner as Jersey.

How legitimate those concerns are is uncertain, but without appropriate preparation and systems and agreements in place, the window of opportunity is there for those willing to exploit it.

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