Scottish parliament committee backs proposals to replace APD

Scottish parliament committee backs proposals to replace APD

The Scottish parliament’s finance committee has backed the general principles of the government’s new air tax bill – but said it was “essential” more information is provided.

A bill replacing Air Passenger Duty with a devolved air departure tax is under consideration in Scotland.

MSPs endorsed the general thrust of the bill, but said they were “disappointed” with the amount of information given.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay said he would carefully consider the report.

The government in Edinburgh has announced its intention to reduce aviation tax by 50% by the end of the current parliament, with the levy eventually abolished “when finances allow”.

But groups including the Chartered Institute of Taxation have argued that detail on rates should be included in the legislation, “to outline who will pay what, when they will pay it and who will be exempt”.

The finance committee’s stage one report on the legislation echoes this, saying more information must be made available to parliament before MSPs are asked to set rates and bands for flights departing from Scottish airports, the BBC reported.

Members recommended that Mackay commission independent economic analysis of the proposed 50% cut policy, to be published before or at the same time as consultations begin on rates and bands.

And they said the bill should be amended to require ministers to bring forward regular reports on the socio-economic and environmental impact of the tax.

Mackay said: “UK APD has been the most expensive tax of its kind in Europe and continues to act as a barrier to Scotland’s ability to secure new direct international services and maintain existing ones.

“Our plan to cut air departure tax by 50% by the end of the parliament, and then abolish it when public finances permit, is a fundamental component to improving Scotland’s international connectivity and providing a real boost to our economy, which is especially important given the economic threat posed by Brexit.”

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