Polls open at 7am today, Thursday 18 September, and close at 10pm tonight. It is estimated that the possible four million Scottish votes will be counted, and the results declared by 7.30am tomorrow, although it may be much later in the day before the final outcome is known.
How will the outcome effect our profession, north and south of the border?
A “Yes” vote for independence
Scotland already has a fairly distinct legal system and in the short term we may not see many radical changes in this direction. The real impact for accountants will be changes to the Scottish tax system.
At present there are countless firms in Scotland with clients who have businesses in the rest of the UK, and vice versa. If those firms continue to service clients across the border they will need to ensure that tax staff and partners are fully aware of legislation in both jurisdictions.
Will this “double-duty” to incur training costs regarding both countries be too much for the smaller practitioner? Will firms with feet both side of the border become uncompetitive and gradually give up their client links one side or the other?
No doubt many firms are already considering the wider impact of a yes vote and planning accordingly.
And what about the accounting Institutes? Will we see separate qualifications for Scotland? Will non-Scottish firms who want to advise clients resident in Scotland be required to apply for a separate practicing certificate?
A yes vote will require that the profession, north and south of the border, will need to adapt. As a consequence there will likely be winners and losers…
A “No” vote, no independence
Even if Scottish voters say no to independence the lead up to the referendum has stirred up nationalist feelings. Westminster has already promised the devolution of further powers to the Scottish Assembly, taxation is one of the issues they will no doubt expect to consider.
Whilst we will still be one nation we may see the tax systems in Scotland and the rest of the UK diverge – the profession will need to keep pace with these changes…
Whatever the outcome of votes casted today this will likely be seen as a historic day – a day when Scotland and the rest of the UK start to consider their differences with more enthusiasm than their similarities. Whether this will benefit or be detrimental to professionals working in the present United Kingdom, we shall have to wait and see.