John Swinney: Scotland’s tax authority is on track

Mr Swinney said the final wave of staff recruitment would begin as planned in January. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Mr Swinney said the final wave of staff recruitment would begin as planned in January. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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THE DEPUTY First Minister has said he is confident Scotland’s new tax authority is on track as it prepares to administer the first taxes devolved to Scotland in more than 300 years.

Revenue Scotland is being set up to collect the land and buildings transaction tax, which replaces the current stamp duty, and the Scottish landfill tax from April.

It will formally become a non-ministerial department tomorrow.

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Earlier this month, MSPs heard that up to 800 returns a day may have to be processed using pen and paper if the body is not ready for the new devolved revenue.

Its head Eleanor Emberson faced questions from two Holyrood committees after an Audit Scotland report concluded that delays in hiring staff and procuring an IT system had increased the risk that the taxes would not be “effectively managed” when they come into force.

Announcing appointments to the board, to be chaired by scientist and company director Dr Keith Nicholson, Mr Swinney said the final wave of staff recruitment would begin as planned in January, with volunteer testing of the system to start the same month.

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A tax calculator has gone live on the Revenue Scotland webpage, payment systems and banking arrangements have been finalised and online registration for users will start in February, he said.

“Recruitment of key staff is under way, with 21 staff either in post or having accepted appointment, while work on the IT system is progressing, with external user testing set to start later this month,” Mr Swinney said.

“In addition to this, registration for the tax return portal will be available from February, allowing users the opportunity to set up and familiarise themselves with the system in advance of completing returns from April 1.

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“The appointment of Dr Nicholson and the rest of the board enhances the significant expertise of those working at Revenue Scotland and I am confident they are on track to administer Scotland’s devolved taxes from April 1.”

Dr Nicholson said: “This is a challenging and exciting time and I look forward to working with the chief executive and staff to ensure the new body performs strongly and provides excellent tax services to the people of Scotland.”

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