Scots poll reveals poor understanding of devolved taxes

Few Scots have a clear understanding of Scotland’s devolved tax powers, according to a poll commissioned by CIOT, which found 84% think that they need better information about how taxes are decided in Scotland

The poll of over 1000 individuals was conducted for the Scottish Taxes Policy Forum, a collaboration between CIOT and ICAS. Its findings show that 60% of Scots surveyed believe that the relationship between UK and Scottish taxes is difficult to understand.

Half (52%) said that they had little or no understanding of the definition of a Scottish taxpayer, while two thirds (66%) were unaware that income tax was the responsibility of both Westminster and Holyrood. 

More than half (57%) were also unaware that land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The poll also found that nearly two-fifths of Scots (39%) believe that the amount of income tax they pay has gone up in recent years, with just 11% of Scots earning less than £30,000 per year believing that they have paid less in income tax in recent years.

The Scottish Government has previously said that people earning less than £26,000 per year will pay less in income tax in Scotland than under the UK wide regime.

Jim Robertson, chair of the Scottish Taxes Policy Forum, said: ‘The findings of this poll provide further evidence that the public is struggling to make sense of the tax powers that have been devolved to Holyrood and the changing nature of Scotland’s tax landscape.

‘Scotland’s devolved tax journey has only recently begun but we hope that politicians and policy makers will take our report and the results of our polling and use these as the basis for a more informed debate.’

The two institutes have published a paper outlining a number of steps for Holyrood and Westminster to take to alleviate this public perception deficit and improve awareness and understanding of tax devolution.

This says that the tax policy making process can be improved by having a more logical and consistent approach to the devolution of tax powers across the UK and a more realistic timeframe between the UK and Scottish Budgets.

It also recommends the introduction of an annual Scottish Finance Bill and a permanent tax committee at Holyrood as a way of increasing the visibility of tax policy decisions, and calls for greater policy collaboration between the Scottish Government and Revenue Scotland, and between Westminster and the devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Devolving Taxes across the UK: Learning from the Scottish Experience is here

Report by Pat Sweet

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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