When Revenue Scotland will provide an opinion
If you have done the following you can ask Revenue Scotland for an opinion:
- fully considered the relevant guidance and
- not been able to find the information you need, or
- remain uncertain about Revenue Scotland's interpretation of recent tax legislation
Revenue Scotland will then set out their opinion in writing.
When Revenue Scotland will not provide an opinion
If you ask for an opinion and Revenue Scotland does not provide it, we will tell you why. For example:
- Revenue Scotland will not provide views on speculative transactions or answer “what if” type queries
- you haven't provided all the necessary information - see the checklist below for details of what you need to provide
- Revenue Scotland doesn't think that there are genuine points of uncertainty - we will explain why we think this and, where appropriate, direct you to the relevant online guidance
- you're asking Revenue Scotland to give tax planning advice, or to 'approve' tax planning products or arrangements
- your application is about treatment of transactions which, in Revenue Scotland's view, are for the purposes of avoiding tax
- you’re asking about the possible application of the General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR)
- Revenue Scotland is checking your tax position for the period in question, in which case you will need to contact the officer dealing with the check
- any related return for the period or transaction in question is final
What information you need to provide
To help you decide what information is relevant to your application when you write to Revenue Scotland you should use the following checklist:
Revenue Scotland asks for this information to make sure that we understand the background to your request and where your uncertainty lies. This helps to process your application more quickly.
When you write to Revenue Scotland you must certify that the information you give is, to the best of your knowledge and belief, complete and correct.
Where you should send your application
Revenue Scotland Opinions, PO Box 24068, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 9BR
How long Revenue Scotland will take to reply
Revenue Scotland will usually reply within 25 working days, and straightforward cases may be dealt with more quickly than this. But where difficult or complicated issues are involved it may take us longer to reply. If this is the case, Revenue Scotland will acknowledge your request and tell you when you can expect a full reply.
Sometimes Revenue Scotland may need to ask you to provide more information before we can send you a full reply. If so, we will suspend the handling time for your application until you're able to provide the additional information that we have requested. Revenue Scotland may also wish to contact you by telephone for clarification, so it helps if you can provide a day time contact number.
Revenue Scotland's opinion does not affect time limits, interest and penalties
Revenue Scotland’s opinion does not affect the date by which you have to pay your tax or send in returns. You may have to pay interest and late payment penalties on any tax that you pay late, for whatever reason.
If you've asked for an opinion before a transaction has taken place, but not received this by the time your return is due to be submitted, then you should still send your completed return in on time.
If you send Revenue Scotland your return on time you won't be liable to penalties for failing to make a return. When you receive Revenue Scotland's response you can, if necessary, amend your tax return as long as you are within the normal time limits to do so.
If you disagree with Revenue Scotland's opinion of your transaction and complete your return and pay tax in accordance with your own view of the proper tax treatment, then you may not have paid the right amount of tax at the right time. In such circumstances, if your return contains a careless or deliberate error which results in a loss of tax or an inflated claim to repayment of tax, then you may be liable to interest and penalties.
When you can rely on an opinion provided be Revenue Scotland
Provided the information you have supplied is accurate and complete, and you carry out the proposed transactions exactly as you describe them, you will generally be able to rely on Revenue Scotland’s opinion.
A Revenue Scotland opinion only applies to the taxpayer who sought it and to the particular transaction in relation to which the opinion was sought. Revenue Scotland opinions have no application to other taxpayers or transactions.
What you can do if you disagree
While Revenue Scotland aims to give you a clear reply to your questions, we recognise that sometimes you may not agree with what we say, or you may not be happy with the service we have provided.
If you disagree with Revenue Scotland's opinion you may complete your return in accordance with your own view of the proper tax treatment, but you should draw Revenue Scotland's attention to the particular entry in your return, or write to us separately at the same time as you submit your return and explain what you have done.
If you believe that Revenue Scotland has failed to take account of some of the material facts set out in your request, please contact the officer who dealt with your application (their details will be on the letter Revenue Scotland sent you in giving the Revenue Scotland opinion), explain what facts you feel were overlooked and ask them to look at your request again. If you remain unhappy you can ask for the request to be referred to another officer.
If you're unhappy with the way Revenue Scotland has handled your request, as distinct from being unhappy with the opinion Revenue Scotland has given, please tell the person you have been dealing with. If they're unable to resolve the issue, ask for your case to be referred to the Revenue Scotland complaints team.
Whether you can appeal
There is no general right of appeal against opinions expressed by Revenue Scotland, except where rights to appeal are set out in statute. Rather, appeal rights are usually against decisions Revenue Scotland takes, such as issuing an assessment for underpaid tax or imposing a penalty.
The letter Revenue Scotland sends you will explain whether you're able to appeal and tell you what to do if you disagree with a decision.