With the economy in shambles and the cost of living rising, Scottish Labour is looking at ways to address the problem of tax evasion and avoidance.
Labour’s tax reforms, announced in November, will: give Scottish businesses greater flexibility to pay tax; create an independent statutory tax authority to provide a legal framework for paying tax; introduce a new ‘tax system in a nutshell’ framework that will apply across the UK and include a tax on avoidance and evasion; and provide for the tax of income from interest earned on savings in an independent Scottish savings bond.
The reforms, which are set to come into force in March, are part of Labour’s long-term tax strategy.
Scottish Conservative and Unionist party leader Ruth Davidson has previously said the party would look to “bring down” the threshold to £50,000.
The proposals were announced on the eve of a crucial budget conference, the Holyrood finance committee, which takes place on Tuesday.
The first meeting of the committee will hear from the Treasury and Scottish Government on the plan.
Labour’s plan is also expected to be supported by the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Labour Party, the three largest parties in Scotland.
Davidson is the first senior Scottish politician to publicly acknowledge the plan is likely to be the first major overhaul of the tax system since it was introduced in 1979.
She said: “Tax is a very complex issue, but I think it is important to recognise that it is not just about income tax and VAT.”
It is also about the way we make our economy grow, and what we have seen in recent years is that we have made some very substantial reforms to the way our economy works.
“Tax is about managing the risks we are taking in order to keep our economy growing, which is why I think we need to look at how we can better manage the risks in order for it to be successful.”
I think it’s important for all of us to look to the future, but the key issue is what we do now and what the next few years will bring.
“So we need an honest and transparent discussion around what we want to achieve and what is needed in terms of tax reform, and it is also important for the country to have the flexibility to make decisions about how we want the country run.”
Davidson, who will hold a cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss the finance committee’s proposals, said it was important to see the plans in full.
She told the committee that the Government has committed to making it easier for companies to pay their taxes and to improve tax avoidance.
She also said the Government was determined to reduce the burden on taxpayers and businesses in Scotland by providing “fair, effective and efficient” tax treatment.
Scottish Labour’s tax reform plans are part