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Swinney insists Revenue Scotland 'on track'

New Scottish tax agency warned over set-up ‘delays’

John SwinneyThe new tax agency for Scotland has been hit by delays in hiring staff and setting up its systems, according to a report published today.

Raising its concerns about delays, Audit Scotland said it was concerned that the process is being dogged by paperwork and increasing costs.

“The staff required to manage the overall programme were not in place early enough,” it says. “There were also delays in procuring the IT system to collect and administer the taxes. These delays have reduced the time available to develop the IT system and appoint staff.”

The Scottish Government insists its £40m system and the recruit process is at an “advanced stage” and that it will be ready to begin testing next month.

Revenue Scotland will begin collecting devolved taxes in April and Audit Scotland today notes that “substantial activity is ongoing” while acknowledging that setting up the new powers is a “large and complex task”.

The Government says it has made progress in a number of areas including:

  • Final tranche of staff recruitment to begin as planned in January
  • Tax calculator now live on Revenue Scotland website (www.revenue.scot) showing frontline users what Land and Buildings Transaction Tax will be due from April under the Scottish Government’s proposed rates and bands
  • Frontline users to begin volunteer testing in January
  • Online registration for front line users on schedule to go live in February
  • Payment systems and banking arrangements finalised
  • Consulting with front line users on technical guidance for both taxes – the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and the Scottish Landfill Tax

Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “Our approach to establishing new taxes in Scotland has been widely praised for our consultation with those who use the system and our efforts to crack down on tax avoidance.

“And today’s report shows that Revenue Scotland is on track to manage collection of the new devolved taxes from April 1st next year.

“Revenue Scotland has in place a team with expert legal, financial, leadership and operational tax experience and the detailed phased recruitment plan to deliver the necessary operational staff is progressing on track.

“Technical guidance on the two taxes is currently being consulted on with external stakeholders and future users of our online tax system are currently being recruited to help us ensure it is user-friendly, effective and efficient.

“Development of IT is proceeding well and is on track to be completed in good time for the roll-out of tax collection in Scotland this April.”

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