Scottish tax: how much should be paid?
Scotland’s at a turning point on tax, which means its inevitably at a turning point on the economy and the way public services are funded.
It’s a debate that is now moving beyond academic exchange, to become a mainstream discussion that is challenging the Scottish people to evaluate the next moves in Scottish public policy.
You can help shape the tax debate in Scotland by joining STV’s Rona Dougall and expert panellists on 12 March to debate Scottish taxes and closely-linked issues. The annual Big Tax Debate, co-hosted by ICAS and the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) will take place at The Principal George Hotel in Edinburgh.
Will increasing income taxes result in more revenue?
The Scottish Government’s most recent budget has passed its parliamentary stages with the support of the Scottish Greens and it has presented challenges for the Government as well as those who depend on it for funding.
Derek Mackay, effectively Scotland’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, has once again taken a generally cautious approach: using the tax powers transferred from Westminster to edge taxes for lower earners down, and edge up tax on the better paid.
The extent to which that trend can continue has been the topic of big debate.
Can tax on the better paid be further raised without depleting the tax base? Importantly, can new types of taxation make a valuable contribution to Scottish revenues – not least of all the proposed tourism taxes or taxes on workplace parking? And is a parking tax a good example of how tax policy can be used to achieve wider policy objectives, like a cleaner, more environmentally responsible approach to transport?
Economy and society: how do we balance revenue raising with spending?
Tax cannot be seen in isolation – it has to have a purpose – most obviously the funding of vital public services.
With new Scottish powers over income taxes, for the first time Scottish revenues are dependent on the overall success of the economy. Getting the balance right between encouraging a successful economy while providing sustainable revenues is surely the big debate for the future.
Not least of all, at a time when the tax base is changing faster than ever before - with shopping taking place on Amazon as opposed to the High Street, and the prospect of artificial intelligence posing a real long-term threat to employment and income taxes.
As much as the quantum of tax raised will spark debate, so will the level of government that raises them.
Can it be right that local government raises much less than half of what it spends? Does the financial transfer from Edinburgh to local town halls undermine local accountability? With headlines full of council budget reductions, have local councillors shown themselves able to take responsibility for making local tax choices and if so, can genuine localism spark new innovation in taxation that is responsive to local needs?
In the ICAS and CIOT 2019 “Big Tax Debate”, we hope to explore these big themes and combine some thoughtful contributions from informed and influential pannelists with hard hitting and incisive questioning from those in attendance. Building on the event held last year, we are set for a fascinating battle of ideas, and insightful appraisal of the different visions of the future represented on the panel.
Tax really is the centrepiece of our national debate – whether it’s society or economy – we look forward to another “Big Tax Debate”.
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