Tax agency to learn from cut­ting-edge Baltic ‘dig­i­tal gov­ern­ment’

● Scottish of­fi­cials ask Es­to­nia for ad­vice on how it stream­lines tax col­lec­tion

The Scotsman - - News Digest -

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.

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