MSP calls for police force to be exempt from VAT

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A NATIONALIST MSP has called for Scotland’s new unified police service to be exempt from VAT amid fears that the taxman may hit the force with a £22 million annual bill.

The Scottish Government has drawn up a worst-case scenario in which HM Revenue and Customs might insist on the payment when the Police and Fire Reform Bill passes as expected at Holyrood.

Under current rules, police forces are treated the same as local authorities and are exempt from the charge under the VAT Act 1994, but this may change when the eight regional forces are merged.

Last Wednesday, Association of Chief Police Officers president Chief Constable Kevin Smith urged politicians to ensure the levy is waived by the UK government, saying the bill equates to about 800 staff.

SNP MSP John Finnie, a former policeman and a member of Holyrood’s Justice Committee, said yesterday that the Scottish Police Service should be given parity with its Northern Irish counterpart in not paying VAT.

“While emergency services budgets are under pressure, we must do everything in our power to help support them, which is why I’m calling on Westminster to treat Scotland the same as Northern Ireland,” he said.