'Scotland's tax future' paper published

By Michael McGlinchey

20 May 2014

ICAS addresses the key elements of setting up a new tax system: North Sea tax revenues, corporation tax and the set-up costs.

The latest ICAS tax paper, "Scotland's Tax Future; Taxes Explained", seeks to inform voters on the importance of key tax and spending numbers at the centre of the independence debate and offers straightforward and objective explanations of current tax topics.

ICAS Director of Taxation, Elspeth Orcharton, says, "Tax is seen as too complex and the political debate too "shouty" to allow these important aspects to be well understood by many. In response to questions asked of us, ICAS sets out the facts and context for the debate on Scotland's future."

The paper outlines the need for voters to have more detail on the costs and practicalities of setting up a new tax system for an Independent Scotland.

Elspeth Orcharton writes in the paper,"There has been no public discussion on the costs of tax independence or further tax devolution."

"In the independence White Paper, costs were described as 'a small proportion of an independent Scotland's total budget'. How small is small?  No further explanation is in the White Paper, meaning it falls short of the informative and detailed financial memorandum that might be expected to accompany even the smallest piece of parliamentary legislation at Holyrood or Westminster at the moment.

"What is it really going to cost and how isit to be paid for is the question that still needs to be answered."

The paper also lays out challenges over the practicalities and timescale of setting up a new tax system.

How would you do it? How long would it take?

This paper updates ICAS observations on the ongoing debate about Scotland's Tax Future. It addresses three significant areas - the importance of North Sea oil and gas tax revenues; the corporation tax rate debate; and the costs of tax independence or further devolution.

Elspeth Orcharton concludes, "Greater awareness of our tax system and the decisions all our political parties might make, regardless of the vote on 18 September, might be no bad thing for us all."


  • Tax
  • Political landscape

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