Scottish Approach to Tax

The background and principles of the Scottish approach to tax.

The Scottish Government‘s approach to taxation in general, will be founded on four principles – certainty, convenience, efficiency and proportionality to the ability to pay.

These principles were articulated in the 18th century by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations.

These principles are reflected throughout the provisions in the two tax Acts and the RSTP Act.

"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."
The Wealth of Nations, Book V Chapter II Pt II, P.825 para 4.

"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…"
The Wealth of Nations, Book V Chapter II Pt II, P.826 para 4.

"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…"
The Wealth of Nations, Book V Chapter II Pt II, P.826 para 6.

"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"
The Wealth of Nations, Book V Chapter II Pt II, P.825 para 3.

Last updated: 
19 November 2014
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