Maclays partner proffers vision of Scots tax haven

Following the historic “Yes Yes” vote on devolution, Scotland should become a tax-free haven in the mould of Monaco or Jersey, according to the managing partner of one of Glasgow's largest law firms.

Michael Walker, of third-largest Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens, has suggested Scotland could take advantage of its newly won powers to turn itself into a tax-free zone in a bid to encourage massive inward investment.

Walker has echoed the fears of some Scottish businessmen that the new Scottish parliament's tax-raising powers could frighten businesses away from Scotland.

But he said it would not be beyond the bounds of possibility for the parliament to eventually drive down capital gains tax “to nothing” and reduce income tax in a bid to encourage inward investment.

W & J Burness head of corporate Malcolm Wood said while Scotland's new parliament would only have very limited tax-raising powers to begin with, it was inevitable it would eventually seek tax autonomy.

Wood, whose Glasgow firm has an office in the tax haven of Guernsey, pointed to the success of Dublin where tax relief has resulted in a business boom.

However, he believed that even in the short-term Edinburgh's new-found legislative power would be good for helping and encouraging business.

Former Law Society of Scotland president Alan Boyd said the legal community was largely bullish about the constitutional changes.

Now director of the Public Sector Unit at Scotland's number two firm McGrigor Donald, Boyd pointed out that since the announcement of a vote of devolution last May, 16 companies had made significant investments in Scotland creating 3,000 jobs.

He said a Scottish parliament would also tackle a backlog of unwieldy legislation ignored by Westminster, such as the feudal land holding system and local government legislation.