Tax Advisory Group minutes: July 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 20 July 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Stuart Adam, senior economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies 

  • Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary at the Scottish Trades Union Congress

  • Dr. Jim McCormick, Chief Executive of the Robertson Trust

  • Cllr. Katie Hagmann, COSLA Resources spokesperson

  • Aidan O'Carroll, Chair of Revenue Scotland and former Chair of the Institute of Directors in Scotland

  • Dr. Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce

  • Charlotte Barbour, Director of Regulatory Authorisations at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and Deputy President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation

  • Professor David Heald, Emeritus Professor in the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow

  • Dan Neidle, Founder of Tax Policy Associates and former tax lawyer

  • Professor Mairi Spowage, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute

Scottish Government

  • Shona Robison MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance (Chair)

  • Lorraine King, Deputy Director, Tax Strategy, Engagement and Performance


  • Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Introductions were made and apologies noted above.

Minute and actions of previous meeting

This was the first meeting of the Tax Advisory Group.

Presentation and discussion: Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Scottish Tax System

Lorraine King presented to the group on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and the three pillar supporting the Strategy – spending, economic growth and a strategic approach to tax policy. The presentation also included discussion of the challenges facing the Scottish tax system and an indicative work plan for discussion later in the meeting.

The Deputy First Minister noted the challenges facing the economy and highlighted the importance of sustainable public finances to delivering the Scottish Government’s three missions – Equality (Tackling poverty and protecting people from harm), Opportunity (A fair, green and growing economy) and Community (Prioritising our public services).

The Deputy First Minister went on to highlight the importance of hearing different viewpoints, experiences, insights, ideas and challenges to help us develop a tax system that is fair, progressive and effective.

The Deputy First Minister noted the importance of considering the whole tax system when thinking about policy changes, and the need to be mindful of the fiscal framework as the group works on developing a tax strategy for Scotland. 

Purpose of the group

The Deputy First Minister invited views from the group on what the key aspects for consideration of the group could be. The discussion covered the role of the tax system (including reliefs and incentives) in encouraging business start and scale ups, as well as helping Scotland work towards net zero.

The group highlighted considerations in income tax system design including fiscal drag, marginal vs average rates, economic performance and wider Government policy including the New Deal for Business and the New Deal for Local Government.

The Deputy First Minister asked the group to reflect on what a successful system would look like – one that was fair, workable, easily understood, generated revenues but avoids some of the negative effects which were raised by members of the group. She went on to note the importance of digitisation for supporting the tax system and ensuring efficiency and accuracy both to enhance tax performance and simplify collection.

Group members also raised the importance of thinking about the Scottish Government's nexus of control over five, 10 and 15 year horizons, to ensure that the work of the group was alive to future challenges.

The next meeting of the Tax Advisory Group was confirmed as 9.30 – 11.00 on Thursday 21 September.


  • redraft ‘Purpose’ in Terms of Reference and group to agree through correspondence prior to the next meeting
  • consider how workplan can be stratified into short, medium and longer term targets
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