The Scottish Aggregates Levy Bill: About more than just aggregate
We set out what’s included in the Aggregates Tax and Devolved Taxes Administration (Scotland) Bill.
The Aggregates Tax and Devolved Administration (Scotland) Bill was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 14 November 2023. The Bill essentially comprises two parts: The first part of the Bill concerns itself with how the Scottish aggregates has been extensively consulted on, both through standard consultation processes and expert panels with sector experts. The second part of the Bill was not consulted on at all.
Part one of the Bill
According to the Scottish government, part one of the Bill provides for the key aspects of the tax, to be known as the “Scottish Aggregates Tax” (SAT). It defines SAT and its key concepts, including key definitions, proposed exemptions and reliefs, and how the tax should be calculated. It also gives Scottish ministers the power to set the rate of tax, which will be considered separately from the Bill. The Bill also creates several penalties, including a penalty for anyone who does not pay the tax when they are required to do so.
Part two of the Bill
The Scottish government go on to explain that part two contains a small number of miscellaneous administrative amendments to the Revenue Scotland & Tax Powers Act 2014 (RSTPA), which are intended to support the efficient and effective collection of tax by Revenue Scotland. These amendments reflect discussions between the Scottish government and Revenue Scotland and, where relevant, take account of provisions which already exist in UK tax legislation. Note that these provisions do not relate to Scottish Aggregates Tax, but to general Revenue Scotland powers.
In summary, the measures in part two are:
- A power for Revenue Scotland to refuse a repayment claim for tax where the claimant has failed to pay other devolved tax due.
- A provision clarifying the penalty in the RSTPA for failure to pay land and buildings transaction tax.
- A provision clarifying the legal continuity of acts by different designated officers of Revenue Scotland, and clarifying how summary warrants for the recovery of unpaid amounts of tax are to be executed.
- A power for Scottish ministers to make regulations on the use of communications from Revenue Scotland to taxpayers, including provision about the use of electronic communications.
- A power for Scottish ministers to make regulations on the use of automation by Revenue Scotland.
- A power for Revenue Scotland to off-set a taxpayer debit against a credit.
- A minor amendment to section 94 of the RSTPA, substituting the word “section” for “paragraph”.
Most of the provisions are fairly routine and serve to tidy up certain aspects of how Revenue Scotland conducts its business – just as would usually be set out in a ‘care and maintenance’ Act in UK tax law, such as the Finance Act which follows a Budget. We have been calling for a similar fiscal event to take place in Scotland on a regular basis so that any changes to the taxes and taxing powers are clear and unambiguous and not sitting at the bottom of bills relating to other matters, which adds opacity for tax experts and taxpayers alike.
Number six in the listing has been discussed with the Scottish government, as this new power would be based on the powers available to the UK government under s.130 FA 2008. ICAS and others have asked for clarification on the extent of these powers, which concern themselves with offsetting debts and credits across the taxes. With such a small amount of relatively new devolved taxes mixed in with reserved taxes currently, it is questionable as to whether such a power is even necessary at present in Scotland.
The Scottish Parliament has issued a call for evidence as set out below, which we are intending to respond to. The Scottish Aggregates Tax expert panel group, which ICAS attends as a member, is continuing to meet in 2024 until the legislative provisions and guidance have been finalised.
The Call for Views on the Aggregates Tax and Devolved Taxes Administration (Scotland) Bill closes on 9 February. If you have any views which you would like ICAS to represent, please contact Justine Riccomini.