Third of Scots not aware of devolved tax regime

With the likelihood of future devolution to Scotland, public awareness of taxation needs to be a priority of the Scottish government says ICAS

ICAS (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland) is calling for the Scottish government to prioritise public awareness of tax after the release of their paper Building a Better Tax System.

Working with The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), ICAS shared information from a poll conducted of 1,098 Scottish adults that reported 33% of those surveyed said they were unaware that the Scottish parliament had made changes to the tax system since 2015 and 26% said they were ‘not aware of’ the Scottish parliament’s powers to make changes to income tax rates. While 25% said the same for Holyrood’s powers over council tax, business rates and land and buildings transaction tax.

The poll, undertaken by Diffley Partnership in March 2021, is the third to be commissioned by ICAS and CIOT since the introduction of Scotland’s new income tax regime in 2018. Different to England, Scotland pay the Scottish rate of income tax (SRIT) which sees a starter rate of 19% rather than a basic rate of 20% in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In the paper released yesterday, ICAS and the CIOT outlined the steps they want introduced in the next Scottish parliament to improve public awareness.

Justine Riccomini, head of taxation (Scottish taxes, employment & ICAS tax community) at ICAS said:

‘ICAS has been monitoring the knowledge of taxation within the Scottish populous for a few years now and it’s been on our radar since Scottish taxes started being devolved.

‘The Scottish government has introduced ways of educating its people before but they need to make some real inroads now into awareness, and make it a priority. We are just at the beginning of this road of devolution. The likelihood is high that more and more powers will be devolved over time but if people don’t understand it now, then what will it be like further down the road when things are even more complicated.”

ICAS has stated that they will continue to work with the Scottish government to improve public awareness of tax laws particularly working to include tax and financial education onto the school curriculum. ICAS believes that by giving students this education, the Scottish government will introduce engaged young adults into society that have a general awareness and understanding of the tax system and why tax is paid. 

Riccomini said: ‘In the different polls we have done since 2018, it has shown a static number of public understanding and that does need to change. We are hoping to improve the figure in the latest poll but it won’t happen overnight. In the next decade we would like to hope that half of the population will have a basic understanding, and we will continue to work with and push the Scottish government to reach this goal.’


Ruby Flanagan |Reporter, Accountancy Daily

Ruby Flanagan is reporter on Accountancy Daily. Contact her on

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