Tax Advisory Group minutes: September 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 28 September 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
  • 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
  • Prof. David Heald, Emeritus Professor in the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow
  • Dan Neidle, Founder of Tax Policy Associates and former tax lawyer
  • Prof. Mairi Spowage, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute

Scottish Government

  • Shona Robison MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance  (Chair)
  • Andrew Scott, Director of Tax and Revenues


  • Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance
  • Cllr. Katie Hagmann, COSLA Resources spokesperson
  • Aidan O'Carroll, Chair of Revenue Scotland and former Chair of the Institute of Directors in Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies 

The Deputy First Minister (DFM) opened the meeting and thanked members for attending, both online and in person. DFM noted the Budget timetable running up to Christmas and that Scottish Government’s decisions about tax policy would be included in the Budget.

Minutes of last meeting & Terms of Reference

Members agreed the minute of the last meeting, and that it be published online.
Members spoke about the Terms of Reference, particularly the context and scope of the group. This confirmed the scope of the group should include consideration of relevant tax-related recommendations made elsewhere (e.g. on Council Tax reform). 
Members also highlighted the importance of examining the tax system as a whole, and making judgements that take account of the complex interaction between devolved, reserved, local and national taxes. This brought to the fore the importance of Scotland being an attractive place to live, work and do business, as it moves towards a wellbeing economy.
It was agreed that further discussions with members on the Terms of Reference were required to capture views and clarify links to other groups with narrower remits, such as the Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) Sub-Group. DFM noted in the context of the discussions that the New Deal for Business and economic growth were important issues for the First Minister.


  • officials to work with members to further develop the Terms of Reference

Income tax focus groups presentation and discussion

DFM introduced a presentation by external researchers who had been commissioned by the Scottish Government to undertake recent qualitative public insights work. This had been conducted through focus groups, and had explored knowledge of and attitudes towards Scottish Income Tax. 
Members had a detailed discussion with the researchers about the rigour of the insights work, and the way in which it should be interpreted. The discussion that followed drew out:

  • that public attitudes to higher levels of tax were contingent upon understanding how Government will spend the additional tax revenue

  • there is a range of research and data sources on public attitudes that the Scottish Government should consider; and

  • in the context of wider public engagement, DFM sought views on how best that could be achieved, including whether the group thought a citizens’ panel approach might be helpful


  • summary of the Scottish Government’s insights work will be published with alongside the Budget; slides from the presentation to be distributed to members for their information meantime
  • proposals on a longer-term approach to public engagement, developed with input from members, should be discussed at a future meeting

Discussion: how can devolved tax levers support tackling child poverty 

Members noted the need for the taxation system as a whole to be progressive to help protect the lowest household incomes, highlighting that the lowest paid pay little or no income tax.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the group is due to take place in mid-November. The Secretariat will be in touch about arrangements nearer the time

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