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Debate 'should move to fixing system'

Holyrood urged to simplify outdated tax rules

Vishal ChopraAccountancy firm Grant Thornton has called for all Scotland’s political parties to make tax simplification a post-election priority.

With the devolution of a raft of tax powers to Holyrood, including the new Scottish Rate of Income Tax, the firm believes now is the right time to address an outdated, complex system.

The UK tax code currently stretches to more than 20,000 pages and was largely created at the turn of the 20th century, with continual minor amendments and additions.

In the digital era, and with growing public demand for greater tax transparency, Grant Thornton says it is imperative that politicians widen the Scottish tax debate.

Vishal Chopra (pictured), head of tax in Scotland at Grant Thornton, commented: “Following the introduction of the Scottish Rate of Income Tax, and with just weeks until the Scottish parliamentary elections, the political parties have gone to great efforts to promote their tax and spend policies.

“Much of the debate has centred on who would raise, maintain or lower taxes. This has been at the expense of discussions over tax simplification.

“The Panama Papers leak has brought the issue of tax back into the headlines. Now, more than ever, people are looking for greater transparency and companies are seeking a more simplified structure to enable them to pay what they owe and get on with focusing on their growth strategies.

“The tax system we have today is rooted in a financial and economic landscape that simply no longer exists. We have an analogue tax code operating in a digital world and the result is that it’s struggling to cope with the challenges and realities of the complex, global world that we all live in.

“The new term in the Scottish parliament brings an opportunity for all parties to develop new thinking on tax. Scotland has the chance to become a world leader in a more simplified, transparent, fair system that works for everyone.”

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