Scottish Approach to Tax

Principles of the Scottish approach to tax and working with the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government’s general approach to tax is founded on four principles articulated in the 18th century by Adam Smith in his book The Wealth of Nations.

  • Certain: The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain, and not arbitrary. The time of payment, the manner of payment, the quantity to be paid, ought all to be clear and plain to the contributor, and to every other person."
  • "Convenient: Every tax ought to be levied at the time, or in the manner, in which it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay…"
  • "Efficient: Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible, over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the state…"
  • "Proportionate to the taxpayer’s ability to pay: The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities"

These principles are reflected throughout the provisions of the underpinning legislation.

Working together on tax

Since tax operations began on 1 April 2015, Revenue Scotland and the Scottish Government have worked in partnership to develop and maintain an efficient and effective tax system for Scotland.

The guiding principles of this partnership are set out in the Working Together on Tax document.

PDF icon Scottish Government and Revenue Scotland - Working Together on Tax.pdf


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