IFS: Scottish tax laws are ‘unnecessarily complicated’

The professional body emphasised Scotland has a more ‘progressive system’ in place compared to the rest of the UK

Scottish tax laws are “unnecessarily complicated”, according to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).IFS

The professional body emphasised Scotland has a more “progressive system” in place compared to the rest of the UK, with taxes being higher for high-income households, and benefits more generous for low-income households.

Someone earning £50,000 will pay around £1,500 more in income tax this year than if they lived elsewhere in the UK.

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Stuart Adam, a senior research economist at the IFS and an author of the report, said: “The Scottish Government’s tax and benefit policies follow a strikingly consistent pattern: both over time and relative to the rest of the UK, they involve giveaways at the bottom and tax rises at the top.

“Changes to income tax, social security benefits, council tax, business rates, and land and buildings transaction tax have all contributed to that pattern.”

David Phillips, an associate director at IFS and another author of the report, said: “The current Scottish Government has called for the devolution of National Insurance, capital gains tax and the remainder of income tax.

“Doing this would mean Scottish income tax changes could apply to all income – reducing the scope for tax avoidance – and allow the Scottish Government to address inefficient and unfair differences in how different types of income are currently taxed.”

He added: “Whether this opportunity would be grasped is another matter though: the current Scottish Government has shied away from radical reform where powers are already devolved.

“The case for devolving VAT also appears much weaker given the administration and compliance issues involved.”

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