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Scotland's Finance Secretary, John Swinney, has outlined plans for an independent Scottish Fiscal Commission to scrutinize and add credibility to Scottish tax policy revenue forecasts.
Under the Scotland Act 2012, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and Scottish Landfill Tax will be introduced and administered by Scottish tax authorities from April 2015. Further reforms under the tax devolution process with the UK are to enable Scotland to set its own rates of personal income tax, up to ten percent lower than those in the United Kingdom, in 2016. The Commission would also be involved in advising the Government on the revenue impact of any personal income tax changes.
Speaking before the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee, Swinney said that the Commission would consist of three part-time and unpaid experts, whose term of office will be limited to between three and five years.
Ahead of the Committee meeting, Swinney explained that the Scottish Fiscal Commission would "strengthen the credibility of the Scottish Government's tax forecasts," and its creation would be a "milestone in the journey to enhance Scotland's fiscal powers."
Swinney first expressed his wish to set up a Scottish alternative to the London-based Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) a year ago. At the time, he said that OBR forecasts on LBTT were "overoptimistic," and that its original forecasts for Scottish Landfill Tax were "utterly inexplicable."
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