Bryan Flint CA: The increasing accountability in Scottish tax
The Convener of the ICAS Scottish Taxes Committee and Tax Board member, Bryan Flint CA, discusses why the introduction of Scottish tax encourages accountability and how the tax committees help to fulfil a public benefit.
What does the Scottish Taxes Committee do and what is your role?
My role is to help set the agenda that our Committee will follow; to convene meetings of the Committee and to work with the excellent tax team at ICAS (Justine Riccomini and Charlotte Barbour deserve special mention) to produce the work output of our Committee.
Key priorities of our Committee are to:
- monitor on behalf of ICAS the development of Scottish Taxes (being the devolved taxes and Scottish Income Tax as a partially devolved tax);
- to inform government, policymakers, revenue authorities and other interested parties on the technical consequences of proposed and existing measures;
- to engage with members to provide them with information and any changes to Scottish Taxes;
- to raise awareness of Scottish Taxes with the wider public and business community.
For example, our Committee produced the ICAS guide to Scottish Taxes.
We want to increase our engagement with the public, industry and other sectors, using the ICAS Guide to Scottish Taxes and other collateral such as the Tax Board ‘Policy Positions’ to raise awareness of ICAS and its expertise.
We will continue to work with relevant officials and agencies to support a policy development based on expert evidence, as well as monitoring and analysing the ongoing impact of Scottish taxes.
In conjunction with the Tax Board we will consider the question of how to increase productivity in Scotland and what part Scottish tax will contribute to this. Considering the interaction of Scottish tax with Brexit developments will be a continuing priority.
What are the fundamental differences between the Tax Board and the Scottish Taxes Committee (STC)?
The Tax Board covers a huge remit of all matters relating to tax; national and international. As a tax practitioner, I have seen the massive growth in the amount of tax law and regulation over the course of my career - there is a lot to cover.
I like being able to consider the detail and really think about the practical impact of the measures that we are examining.
The STC reports to the Tax Board and we take guidance on the matters that we should be working on as a priority. I like being able to consider the detail and really think about the practical impact of the measures that we are examining.
What do you find useful about sitting on both the board and the committee?
It enables me to see how the detailed measures relating to Scottish Taxes fit in to the wider tax environment. The Tax Board has been incredibly supportive of the STC. I believe we are the most recently formed of the tax committees, but we are very active.
Everything in connection with Scottish Taxes is new and that means we are not revising or re-working what has gone before.
What is your opinion on the introduction of Scottish income tax, and how do you see it progressing?
We now have a more direct link between the economy, tax receipts and the Scottish Budget. The significance of the Barnett Formula block grant has been diminished; this will expose the budget in Scotland to the risk of a reduction in economic performance but will mean that the Scottish Government will have more to spend if the economy grows.
The reason behind devolved taxation and therefore the advantages are as set out in the Smith Commission and before that the Calman Commission (and the Steel Commission as long ago as 2006).
Devolved taxation has not made it simpler for individuals and businesses, but any additional complexity is a necessary consequence.
The question being addressed is one of accountability of the Parliament. A Parliament should be responsible to its electorate for raising the money that it spends on behalf of the electorate.
The extension of tax powers is designed to address this previous deficiency. Devolved taxation has not made it simpler for individuals and businesses, but any additional complexity is a necessary consequence of the policy decision that has been made.
Why do you give up your time to volunteer with ICAS, and would you encourage other CAs to get involved?
As someone living in Scotland, I am interested in the subject of Scottish Taxes. I am fascinated by the novelty of the subject; we are in uncharted territory in tax terms.
I am also very aware of the appreciation that ICAS receives for our contribution to helping the newly expanded Scottish Government departments and the various Revenue authorities that are now dealing with these new taxes – it feels like a great example of ICAS fulfilling its public benefit remit. In my role as Convener, I get to meet and work with some really interesting and great people.
The quality and diversity of the membership of the Scottish Taxes Committee is important. We have an excellent mix of people from industry, professional practice, academics and an advisor to the House of Lords. This means that we discuss a wide range of perspectives and we can all benefit from the breadth of views and quality of analysis.
How does your employer support your work with ICAS?
Deloitte has been very supportive to me taking on this role. The firm recognises the personal development that this work offers to myself and my career and Deloitte actively supports ICAS and the contribution that it makes. The Committee’s work is making a wider contribution to society and it is the right thing to do.
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering opportunities at ICAS please get in touch.