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Revision of Charter of Standards and Values - A Consultation Paper from 6 February 2015

This consultation paper seeks your views on a Charter of Standards and Values between Revenue Scotland and taxpayers or their agents.

Revenue Scotland wishes to establish and maintain a positive relationship with taxpayers and ensure that compliance with the legislation is as easy for taxpayers as possible.

One of the ways in which this can be established is through the use of a Charter of Standards and Values setting out the standards of behaviour and values expected of taxpayers and which taxpayers (and their agents and representatives) can expect of Revenue Scotland.

We welcome comments and suggestions on the content and presentation of the draft Charter presented here. Views are invited by FRIDAY 6 MARCH 2015. We will consider all responses with the intention of publishing a final Charter by 1 April 2015. The Charter will also be laid before the Scottish Parliament.

Background

Revenue Scotland, established by the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014, will begin administering Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Scottish Landfill Tax from 1 April 2015. The legal responsibilities of both Revenue Scotland and taxpayers in relation to these taxes are set out in the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland) Act 2013, the Landfill Tax (Scotland) Act 2014 and the associated secondary legislation.

Section 10 of the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 places a duty on Revenue Scotland to prepare and publish a Charter of standards and values.

10 Charter of standards and values

(1) Revenue Scotland must prepare a Charter.
(2) The Charter must include—
(a) standards of behaviour and values which Revenue Scotland is expected to adhere to when dealing with taxpayers, their agents and other persons in the exercise of its functions, and
(b) standards of behaviour and values which Revenue Scotland expects taxpayers, their agents and other persons to adhere to when dealing with Revenue Scotland.
(3) Revenue Scotland must—
(a) publish the Charter as it considers appropriate,
(b) review the Charter from time to time, and
(c) revise the Charter when it considers it appropriate to do so.
(4) Before publishing or revising the Charter, Revenue Scotland must consult such persons as it considers appropriate.
(5) Revenue Scotland must lay the first Charter and any revised Charter before the Scottish Parliament.

Many tax authorities across the world have similar documents which aim to ensure tax authorities act with integrity and taxpayers comply with their obligations. We considered a range of them in the development of this Charter. We also asked a small number of professional stakeholder organisations for their initial views on the format a Charter might take and the standards and values they would expect to see included. Views were also invited from members of the Devolved Tax Collaborative – a forum created by Revenue Scotland for engagement with stakeholders of devolved taxes in Scotland.

The draft Charter presented here is a result of that early dialogue and we hope reflects many of the expectations expressed during those discussions. A key factor in our thinking and that of these stakeholders was the need for the Charter to be clear, concise and usable.

Purpose of the Charter

The Charter will be helpful in establishing a positive, respectful and co operative relationship between Revenue Scotland and taxpayers. It is intended to support taxpayers understand their rights and responsibilities. It is framed as a principles based document which sets out clearly those standards and values that Revenue Scotland and taxpayers are expected to exhibit in their dealings with each other.

The Charter will apply to Revenue Scotland and staff of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Registers of Scotland (RoS) when they are acting on behalf of Revenue Scotland. (The roles, responsibilities and practical working arrangements between Revenue Scotland and both RoS and SEPA will be set out in Memoranda of Understanding which will be published on the Revenue Scotland website). It will apply to taxpayers and others who deal with Revenue Scotland. It will not apply to taxpayers in Scotland in their dealing with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). HMRC’s “Your Charter” applies in relation to all dealings with HMRC, including the Scottish Rate of Income Tax for which HMRC remains the administrative body.

While the requirement to have a Charter is in legislation, the Charter itself will not be a legal document and there will be no legal powers given to enforce the Charter, other than those that exist already (e.g. in the various Tax Acts as well as the Data Protection Act 1998 and The Equality Act 2010). There is no scope within this consultation to reconsider any aspects of the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 or any other legislation.

Both Revenue Scotland and taxpayers will be expected to adhere to the Charter. In the event that a taxpayer consider Revenue Scotland has not adhered to the Charter they will have the right to complain. The complaints procedure will be published on the Revenue Scotland website and referred to within the Charter. Revenue Scotland is subject to oversight by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (www.spso.org.uk) who will act as the independent arbiter and final stage for any complaints against Revenue Scotland.

The Charter will be well-publicised and easy to find on the Revenue Scotland website. It may be made available in different languages and formats in response to any reasonable request. Revenue Scotland will draw taxpayers’ attention to the Charter as a matter of course in all correspondence and the Charter will form an important part of Revenue Scotland’s staff guidance.

Scope of consultation

This consultation offers an opportunity to shape the culture of tax administration in Scotland and establish the kind of relationship that Revenue Scotland and taxpayers will have with each other. The Charter is intended to help taxpayers and their agents understand their rights and responsibilities.

The role of Revenue Scotland is to administer the collection of those taxes devolved to Scotland - it does not have powers to set tax policy. The development of tax policy, including decisions about rates, bands and reliefs remains with Scottish Government through the Scottish Parliament. For this reason, the Charter does not contain principles relating to how tax policy should be developed nor the rates being applied. There is no scope within this consultation to reconsider any aspects of the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 or any other legislation.

The Smith Commission considered what new powers should be devolved to Scotland following the Independence Referendum in September 2014. The report of the Smith Commission recommended that air passenger duty and aggregates tax should both be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Those recommendations are subject to the legislative processes of the UK and Scottish Parliaments. Until that time, Revenue Scotland will administer Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and the Scottish Landfill Tax only. The Charter presented here will, at this stage, cover Revenue Scotland’s dealings with these two taxes only. The Charter will be reviewed and revised as appropriate in the event of further taxes being devolved to Scotland.

 

Revenue Scotland - Draft Charter of Standards and Values

The Scottish approach to tax is founded on four principles:

  • certainty
  • convenience
  • efficiency
  • proportionality to the ability to pay.

Revenue Scotland collects taxes which fund public services for the benefit of all Scottish citizens, and does so according to the four principles. To do this fairly and consistently, all involved need to work together in good faith to ensure that the right amount of tax is paid.

This Charter of Standards and Values sets out the behaviour we should expect from each other. It applies equally to you (taxpayers, agents and representatives), as it does to us (Revenue Scotland and staff of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Registers of Scotland when they are acting on behalf of Revenue Scotland in respect of the functions delegated to them by the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014).

Standards and Values

Revenue Scotland will:

  • Treat you as honest (unless there is reason to believe otherwise).
  • Bring to account those who act dishonestly and try to evade paying tax.
  • Treat you courteously and with respect; and recognise your right to confidentiality.
  • Act with integrity and fairness at all times, comply with relevant laws and regulations, and provide a prompt, accurate and professional service.
  • Use our powers reasonably and consistently.
  • Provide you with guidance and support, helping to make it easy for you to comply with your obligations, pay the right amount of tax and claim reliefs to which you may be entitled.
  • Work with you to minimise your costs in dealing with us, respond promptly and conclude matters as quickly as possible.
  • Use your feedback to improve our processes; respect your right to complain and act upon all complaints.
  • Respect your right to be represented by someone.

Taxpayers (their agents and representatives) will:

  • Be honest and open, and take care to ensure you provide all relevant information.
  • Respect our staff and treat them with courtesy.
  • Keep accurate records of all activities that may be taxable.
  • Make accurate returns and claims with care and on time, to the best of your ability, knowledge and belief.
  • Let us know quickly if you think you have made a mistake or if you are having difficulty with understanding what is required of you or making payments.
  • Contact us when you need help, advice, or information, and to tell us if you have particular needs.

All parties have the right to refer to this Charter in all tax dealings including correspondence, review and appeal, tribunal and court proceedings.

If you feel that Revenue Scotland has fallen short of this Charter then you can make a complaint. If you remain unhappy at the conclusion of our complaints procedure then you may ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to consider the matter further.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) is the final stage for complaints about public services in Scotland. This includes complaints about the Scottish Government, Non Departmental Public Bodies, agencies and other government sponsored organisations. If you remain dissatisfied with an organisation after its complaints process, you can ask the SPSO to look at your complaint. The SPSO cannot normally look at complaints:

  • where you have not gone all the way through the organisation’s complaints handling procedure
  • more than 12 months after you became aware of the matter you want to complain about, or
  • that have been or are being considered in court.

The SPSO's contact details are:

SPSO
4 Melville Street
Edinburgh
EH3 7NS

SPSO
Freepost EH641
Edinburgh
EH3 0BR

Freephone: 0800 377 7330

Online: www.spso.org.uk/contact-us

End of draft Charter text.

 

Consultation Questions

  1. Do you think the obligations and responsibilities on Revenue Scotland (and SEPA and RoS in relation to the functions delegated to them by Revenue Scotland), as set out in the draft, are appropriate?
  2. Do you think the obligations and responsibilities on Taxpayers and their agents and representatives, as set out in the draft, are appropriate?
  3. Do you have any suggestions about how Revenue Scotland should raise awareness of the Charter and encourage its use by Revenue Scotland staff, taxpayers, their agents and representatives?
  4. Do you have any other comments you would like to make?

Responding to this Consultation

Responses to this consultation are welcome from any individual or organisation with an interest.

To respond, please complete the response form available below and email it to info@revenue.scot by Friday 6 March 2015.

Charter Consultation Response Form

We need to know how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are happy for your response to be made public. Answering the first few questions in the response form will ensure that we treat your response appropriately. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential and treat it accordingly. All respondents should be aware that Revenue Scotland are subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act, for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

We will analyse your responses to the consultation questions and use them as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. Final decisions on the issues under consideration will also take account of a range of other factors, including other available information and research evidence. While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments.

If you have any queries about how to reply, or require a copy of this paper in an alternative format, please e-mail info@revenue.scot.

Last updated: 
26 January 2015