Responsible taxation and the SDGs


Working note for Responsible Tax Lab workstream, supported by SCVO

Date: March 2019

This initiative is an exploratory study looking at, 'The role of a responsible tax system in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)'.

Prepared for: Ruchir Shah & Paul Bradley, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)

Prepared by: Caroline Macfarland & Malina McLennan, Common Vision (CoVi)

Workstream detailsEdit

Workstream title:

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Scotland: Taxation and the Scottish National Performance Framework

What are we doing?

With the UK government's voluntary review due of its application of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals to take place in the first half of 2019 ahead of the UN's High Political Forum in July, this workstream will look at how taxation contributes to the government's national and international priorities around poverty, inequality, climate change, inclusive societies and access to health and education.

The aim of the workstream is to develop a civil society perspective on taxation in Scotland, against the backdrop of the National Performance Framework (NPF) in Scotland which is aligned with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

This work will help us develop civil society perspectives on how taxation contributes to national and international challenges around building a fairer, more equal, sustainable and inclusive Scotland and what can be learned about this for the rest of the UK. A key objective of the project is to understand the tools and knowledge that can equip Scotland’s third sector to understand financial information and tax policy levers. Increasing public understanding of just how taxes work is imperative if organisations and charities want to engage with the public on topics relating to responsible and sustainable tax practices.

Key questions are:

  • How can we ensure that the tax system helps Scotland contribute to our international responsibilities as framed by UN Sustainable Goals, and what lessons can be gleaned for the rest of the UK?
  • What sorts of tax policies might optimally align Scottish National Outcomes with the universal UN SDG agenda?
  • How should the Scottish Government and other bodies incorporate responsible tax principles to best support a sustainable and inclusive economy, where more people are able to participate in an economy that leaves no-one behind? How might better fiscal transparency support the Scottish National Outcomes and SDGs, and greater public trust in the tax system?
  • Do we need to raise more tax revenues to meet the Scottish National Outcomes?
  • How best can we use tax reliefs as an incentive to ensure a more inclusive and sustainable economy? How should we divide up these tax incentives between charities, business, and individuals?
  • How might the Scottish government engage with the UK and international tax cooperation in order to better meet the SDGs?

Activities include:

  • A pre-launch open consultation on the points of interest and key questions
  • A series of written and video interviews with business and civil society leaders
  • A series of guest blogs/ articles which examine the relevance, possibilities, and applicability of responsible tax principles ahead of the culmination of the UK's Voluntary National Review in 2019.
  • 2 roundtable events in Edinburgh and London

Stakeholder mappingEdit

SCVO and Covi are planning to draw from the following stakeholders for an initial consultation for this initiative, before we open up the conversation to a wider group.

If you feel a relevant stakeholder is missing from this list please add to it or get in touch at

Please do not enter any personal individual details such as individuals' emails or contact numbers - these will be removed.

Stakeholder type Stakeholder Organisations / Names
Government Scottish Government Ministers for finance and communities

Special advisors for finance and communities

Third Sector Unit officials

Finance division officials

Head of Open Government

Director for public service reform

Director General for communities

Government NDPBs Scottish Human Rights Commission chair
Private Sector Tax consultancies ICAS

Ernst and Young consultancy

Private Sector Energy companies SSE Energy

Scottish Power

Civil society Think tanks Fraser of Allander


Civil society Economists Jo Armstrong (JA Analysis)

Mike Danson (Heriott Watt University)

Politicians MSPs Co-convenor of Scottish Greens

Scottish Conservatives finance spokesperson

Scottish Labour finance spokesperson

Scottish Lib Dems finance spokesperson

Civil Society Third Sector Homeless Action Scotland

Inclusion Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust

Glasgow Council for Voluntary Action

Community Enterprise (Scotland)

One Parent Families Scotland

Glasgow Council on Alcohol

Scottish Community Development Centre