Scottish tax devolution: A very ambitious timetable

MPs on the House of Commons Treasury Committee will question tax experts on Tuesday, 28 October in the first evidence session in an inquiry, announced yesterday, into proposals for further fiscal and economic devolution in Scotland. Read more at AccountingWEB.

Professional bodies have called on politicians to consider carefully the implications of further devolution of tax powers, but the timetable set by David Cameron on the morning after last month’s referendum is very ambitious.

A paper published by the UK government’s Scotland Office, setting out the three main parties’ proposals on a range of taxes, illustrates the size of the task. But the Smith commission’s terms of reference are

to convene cross-party talks and facilitate an inclusive engagement process across Scotland to produce, by 30 November 2014, Heads of Agreement with recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Whatever happens, personal tax is going to be more complex. The Scottish Parliament is expected to exercise its power to set a Scottish rate of income tax from April 2016. Taxpayers and their advisers will need to know who is a “Scottish taxpayer”. In some cases, the answer will not be entirely clear.