HMRC to revoke Brexit regulations after complaint

HM Revenue & Customs will withdraw regulations giving HM Treasury officials the power to change customs, VAT, or excise law by public notice, after a legal charity threatened to seek a judicial review.

The Cross-Border Trade (Public Notices) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 were stated to be made in the exercise of powers conferred by section 51 of the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Act 2018. They were set to come into force on exit day — when the United Kingdom leaves the EU — and have effect for six months. Any public notice would have effect for no more than 60 days.

HMRC decided to revoke the regulations following a challenge from the Public Law Project, a registered charity …

My news story for Tax Notes ($), October 18

Tax commitments rewritten in Brexit deal

Changes in the presentation of “level playing field” commitments in relation to the future EU-UK relationship will make little difference in tax terms, a London-based corporate tax practitioner said.

Detailed commitments on tax, the environment, labour, state aid and competition have been removed from the legally binding withdrawal agreement that was rejected by MPs, and replaced by “short references” in the nonbinding political declaration, BBC economics editor Faisal Islam noted on Twitter on October 18.

The United Kingdom has been “ahead of the EU in implementing global anti-tax evasion and tax avoidance measures,” Clifford Chance LLP partner Dan Neidle tweeted on October 17. The intention is that specific commitments will be included in a future free trade agreement, Neidle told Tax Notes, adding that there is no guarantee of that happening. “This looks like a dramatic change — but in reality these commitments had very little real-world effect,” he said. Read more:

My news story for Tax Notes ($) October 18

Inheritance tax – beyond reform?

Inheritance tax raises strong emotions, not least because “it affects people only occasionally, in sometimes significant and surprising ways, and at a sensitive time”.

That observation, made by the Office of Tax Simplification, will strike a chord with many executors and inheritance tax practitioners. My recent article for Financial Accountant magazine is free to view here.

Principles Matter in Digital Economy Tax Debate, Panellists Say

Discussing the OECD’s efforts to find a global solution to tax the digital economy, tax professionals stressed the importance of establishing agreed principles and finding the right balance between simplicity and accuracy.

There is a debate between countries saying “you have to have a principle here, because everything else then hangs on the principle,” and others that advocate for work on an agreed solution because they “could never agree” on the principle, Mike Williams, director of business and international tax at HM Treasury, said during a July 5 conference hosted by the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.

My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), published July 9, is reproduced with permission below:

Principles Matter in Digital Economy Tax Debate, Panellists Say


U.K. Treasury to Proceed With Off-Payroll Working Reform

The U.K. government will implement changes to the IR35 regime for services provided via personal service companies in 2020 as planned, despite concerns about the timetable and the quality of guidance provided to taxpayers.

The government on July 11 published draft finance bill legislation, explanatory notes, and tax information and impact notes. Consultation on the draft legislation, most of which deals with policy changes already announced, will close September 5. The finance bill will be presented to Parliament after the next budget, which is scheduled for the autumn.

My news story for Tax Notes Daily International (paywall), July 12:

U.K. Treasury to Proceed With Off-Payroll Working Reform

Johnson Criticized Over U.K.-U.S. Spat and Brexit Strategy

An extraordinary diplomatic row cast a shadow over U.K.-U.S. relations and the Conservative Party leadership contest, while a former U.K. prime minister vowed to challenge any attempt force through a no-deal Brexit.

Former Prime Minister John Major told the BBC July 10 that it would be “simply not acceptable” for the new prime minister to seek to prorogue Parliament to deliver a no-deal Brexit by October 31.

Members of Parliament opposed to a no-deal Brexit aim to use parliamentary procedure to block such an outcome. However, during a July 9 televised debate, Boris Johnson, the front-runner in the Conservative leadership contest, refused to rule out proroguing Parliament — bringing the parliamentary session to an end — should he become prime minister. “We must stick to [the October 31] deadline,” he said.

My news story for Tax Notes Daily International (paywall), July 11:

Johnson Criticized Over U.K.-U.S. Spat and Brexit Strategy

Think Tank Questions U.K. ‘Tax Breaks’ for Self-Employed

U.K. tax authority data suggests that the structure of income taxes is encouraging people to choose self-employment over more productive employment, as well as leading to revenue losses, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said.

Analysis of HM Revenue & Customs records found a “huge churn in the self-employed population,” reflecting the fact that most sole trader businesses close quickly, the IFS said in a July 9 report. A fifth of newly set-up sole traders are no longer trading after their first year, 60 percent have ceased trading by year five, and 80 percent have ceased after 12 years, the IFS noted.

My news story for Tax Notes Daily International (paywall), July 10:

Think Tank Questions U.K. ‘Tax Breaks’ for Self-Employed