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Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

Tartan taxes - nothing new

25 June 2015

In Westminster, and Holyrood too, there’s debate about the future tax structure in Scotland and the differences which will arise between us and the rest of the UK.  However, you may be interested to know that this is a road travelled often enough to attract a toll.

Except of course, there are no tolls in Scotland.  The concept of cash before a dash across an estuary, by means of a bridge or tunnel, has been consigned to history these past few years by the government in Edinburgh.  It’s something of a surprise to southbound travellers, finding their way delayed at Mersey, Severn and Dartford by the need to find the means to pay the modern day Charon.  It’s a pleasant surprise, for inbound visitors from France and Germany and Switzerland, to find their carnet unnecessary - at least for mainland trips.

Whether you consider a toll a travel tax or not, may not matter, since it’s not the only revenue raising idiosyncrasy north of the border.

An English king dreamt up a window tax in 1696.  It was a revenue raised on the view from your front room, supposedly a tax on the rich who could afford expensive glass, and therefore more windows.  Scotland, presumably gloomy enough already, didn’t follow suit until 1748.  You can still see Georgian buildings with painted faux-lits in the New Town, pretending to be windows - an early means of architectural avoidance of tax that left the occupants in the dark in more ways than one.  Presumably, a modern version would levy more for double and triple glazing, and lead to a rash of high-tech, low-aesthetic alternatives.  CCTV on the outside, TV screen on the inside anyone?  Maybe a bit difficult to open on a sunny day.

What other tax differentials might be suited to a Scottish-centric revenue service, more tuned-in to the Caledonian psyche?

A nippie-sweetie tax might help in a couple of ways.  Reduce our universally derided sugar intake perhaps, or if applied to the attitude rather than the confection, maybe improve our national demeanour, by actually making it expensive to be dour - or gloomy …. but not in the same way as the window tax!

A Munro Tax may put the brakes on climbing the highest peaks, unless it was tapered of course, reducing as altitude increases.  Arthur’s Seat will be deserted, except for fabulously wealthy urban ramblers, Ben Nevis will never be so popular.  So no change there.

Anyway, time will tell what additional tax differentials the Government  will introduce moving forward and how this will affect your tax return - we’ll enlighten you if you need to know … so you’re not kept in the dark.


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