Tax agency to learn from cutting-edge Baltic ‘digital government’
● Scottish officials ask Estonia for advice on how it streamlines tax collection
country is willing to use our models,” Ms Intelmann told The Scotsman. “That model requires a citizen to accept the loss of a certain amount of privacy, because everything is linked to a single source.
“Everything is cross-linked. Some people may not like that… That amount of openness may not be comfortable.”
Revenue Scotland administers land and buildings transaction tax, landfill tax and air departure tax, but does not have responsibility for the new Scottish rate of income tax.
However, taxation isn’t the only part of Scotland’s public sector interested in Estonia’s experience of digital government. Officials are also understood to have been in touch with Estonian counterparts to find out more about the e-file scheme, which allows citizens to initiate and follow criminal and civil cases through the justice system.
The single digital record is only accessible by an individual and their lawyers, and can be updated with information by the police, prosecutors, the courts, and the prison service.
Ms Intelmann said Estonia, which won back its independence in 1991 after 51 years of Soviet rule, had to “start from scratch” when setting up its government and made an early decision to embrace technology and the internet when designing services.
The country has established an e-governance academy to share its expertise. “We have started approaching governments and saying, look, there is a way to do things more efficiently, but sometimes the reaction is lukewarm,” Ms Intelmann said.
“Then you understand that it’s not because you have come up with something weak, but because you have come up with something that is pretty strong, and that could change the fabric of a society.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it engaged with governments around the world as part of its diplomatic outreach.