Scottish tax policy in the 2016 – 2021 session

This paper reviews the tax policy changes that have been implemented in Scotland between the 2017/18 and 2021/22 budgets. It considers the motivation for policy changes, as well as their impacts on taxpayers and government revenues. The key thread linking the Scottish Government’s main tax policy decisions this parliament is the aspiration to be able to claim that the majority of Scottish taxpayers are liable for less tax than they would be under the policy that prevails in the rest of the UK; but at the same time, to set tax policy structures that are more progressive than prevail in rUK. This theme is common to all major devolved taxes, including income tax, council tax, property transactions taxes, and business rates. The Scottish Government argues that the resulting tax system is ‘fairer’ and ‘more competitive’ than the rUK system.


David is Senior Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the Fraser of Allander Institute