Sharon Blain: new ICAS Scottish Taxes Committee Convener
Sharon Blain, Tax Director at PwC, explains how she became involved in volunteering at ICAS and why she recently accepted the role of Convener of the Scottish Taxes Committee.
Why did you agree to be the convener of the Scottish Taxes Committee?
I joined the Scottish Taxes Committee in 2017 and have found it a very interesting and rewarding experience. I have especially appreciated having the chance to share the wide range of experience and views that the members bring to the committee. Their commitment and insight gives us a great platform to engage with the many debates on Scottish taxes – current and future!
How does your employer support your work with ICAS?
PwC are very supportive of all our staff involving themselves in industry and professional bodies. They recognise the benefit to us as individuals in expanding our knowledge and experience and also their responsibility to support wider engagement in the tax system. It also reflects PwC’s commitment to building trust in society and solving important problems.
What do you see as the main objectives for your term as Convener of the Scottish Taxes Committee?
The Committee has a varied role - ranging from the more practical, detailed work in tackling the technical aspects of new and current legislation to a wider remit in assessing new tax proposals and engaging with Revenue Scotland and the Scottish Government. Our main objectives are:
- To keep assessing whether the current taxes are operating as well as possible, leveraging the extensive knowledge of the committee and of the wider membership to support ICAS.
- To engage in the wider debates such as the recent consultation on tax-policy making in Scotland and to use our practical knowledge and expertise to support the further development of devolved taxes.
- To continue to inform members and the wider public and business on the development and operation of Scottish taxes.
We will potentially see the introduction of two new local taxes (Transient Visitor Levy and the Workplace Parking Levy).
I expect a lot more discussion on changes to existing property taxes and the possibility of other new taxes as the Scottish Government (like many others) grapples with the best way to raise revenues whilst supporting other policy objectives such as protecting the environment and encouraging business.
However, in the next 12 months there may be more discussion than action as we wait for the introduction of Air Passenger Duty and Aggregates Levy – and of course any further consultation on the assignment of income tax to local areas. Of course the current political environment in the UK can make predictions rash.
Why is it important for ICAS members to receive thought leadership on Scottish Taxes?
The shift in the UK tax system from being effectively centralised to a more devolved model has been a long time coming and we in Scotland have been at the forefront of that change.
Having been involved with PwC in the field of devolved taxes since 2011, it has been a unique opportunity to witness and contribute to the shaping of a new tax system and administration.
ICAS and its members have a vital as independent, objective experts but also can play a key part in trying to really engage the wider public in the current debates around Scottish tax. As practitioners and in-house specialists, we need to have up-to-date knowledge of the Scottish tax environment and where it might be heading.
By sharing our knowledge and experience, we can all contribute to improving the tax system.