HMRC announces new structure as critics call for public tax returns

A reorganization of HM Revenue & Customs suggests that the department is thinking “more broadly in taxpayer terms,” a leading tax expert said, as a review commissioned by the Labour Party noted “considerable public dissatisfaction” with the quality of service at HMRC and called for the publication of large companies’ tax returns.

“As HMRC develops its digital services, it is a positive step to see it prioritizing changes to the customer-facing team,” Paul Aplin, vice president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said in a statement. “At a time when Brexit has created new challenges for businesses and growth is key to economic recovery, it is vital [that] businesses and their advisers can get simple actions done effectively and efficiently by HMRC.” Continue reading “HMRC announces new structure as critics call for public tax returns”

MPs to vote on Office of Tax Simplification appointments

Senior appointments to the Office of Tax Simplification are to be put to a vote of members of Parliament, the UK government announced as it rejected a proposal to give the cross-party House of Commons Treasury Committee a power of veto.

During a Finance Bill debate on September 6, MPs considered an amendment, proposed by Labour MPs, that would have prevented the chancellor from appointing the OTS chair or tax director without the committee’s consent …

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jane Ellison told the debate that the government will ensure that the Treasury Committee can hold hearings with future OTS chair candidates before their appointments are formalized, and that appointments are put to a vote in the House of Commons.

Read more: My news story for Tax Notes 8 September (paywall) published by Tax Analysts.

 

UK paves the way for public country-by-country reporting but stresses multilateral approach

Tax transparency campaigners have welcomed the UK government’s decision to accept a Finance Bill amendment that will enable HM Treasury to make regulations requiring large multinationals to publish country-by-country reports of their profits and taxes. The government, however, stressed that it intends to seek international agreement on a reporting model before using the new power.

Customers and taxpayers expect big companies to “play fair by them and by the country in which they operate,” Labour member of Parliament Caroline Flint said during a House of Commons debate on September 5. “It sometimes seems as though we are trying to catch jelly.”

Read more: My news story at Tax Notes 7 September (paywall) published by Tax Analysts.

The Making Tax Digital debate on Twitter

MPs on the Treasury Committee resumed their UK tax policy inquiry this week and much of the discussion concerned the Making Tax Digital project, which is the subject of six HMRC consultations, an apparent lack of awareness among small businesses, and a great deal of uncertainty among those who do know about MTD.

My tweets during the live broadcast, reproduced below (latest first), captured just a few of the key points made during the committee hearing by Bill Dodwell, president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, and three representatives of small business. We can expect a transcript of the hearing to be published soon. Continue reading “The Making Tax Digital debate on Twitter”

UK lawmakers to debate public country-by-country reporting as tax expert urges caution

Members of the U.K. Parliament have been urged not to risk “confrontation” with U.S. lawmakers by breaking ranks on public country-by-country (CbC) reporting, as they prepare to debate for a second time a finance bill amendment that would pave the way for mandatory public CbC reporting by large multinationals.

MPs defeated a similar amendment in June by just 22 votes. Labour MP Caroline Flint’s revised amendment, set to be debated on September 5 or 6, has the support of a cross-party group of 60 MPs.

Then-Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke told Flint during the June 28 debate that the government shared her aims of increasing transparency and clamping down on avoidance. The government had “led the way in calling at an international level for public CbC reports,” he said. But Gauke argued that the amendment was technically flawed and that there would be “disadvantages for the U.K.” if Parliament acted unilaterally.

Read more: My news story for Tax Notes, 3 September (paywall) published by Tax Analysts.

Office of Tax Simplification calls for clearer strategy and better public debate

The increased use of roadmaps setting out the direction of U.K. tax policy would increase confidence and trust in the tax system and help to reduce uncertainty arising from the Brexit vote, the Office of Tax Simplification has said in response to a joint project to improve tax policymaking.

The experience from the Business Tax Roadmap first published in 2010 and updated in March 2016 was positive, but the government’s intentions in other areas are unclear, according to a July 2016 paper setting out the initial findings of the project, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Taxation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and the Institute for Government.

Read more: My news story for Tax Notes, 3 September (paywall) published by Tax Analysts.

Making public sector bodies responsible for applying IR35 tax rules will be a ‘lose-lose’

Abolition of the controversial IR35 tax regime for personal service companies is not an option, the government declared in a July 2015 discussion paper. Instead it decided to try to make the legislation more effective without widening its scope.

It did so in this year’s Budget, announcing that public sector organisations will have a new duty to ‘ensure that those working for them pay the correct tax rather than giving a tax advantage to those who choose to contract their work through personal service companies’.

IR35 specialists have criticised the reform. Andrew Chamberlain, deputy director of policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), says it is ‘only likely to create a lose-lose situation’.

Read more: My article for Accounting and Business September 2016, published by ACCA.

Chancellor strengthens tax simplification team ahead of independence debate

Leading tax commentators have welcomed the appointment of three new non-executive directors to the board of the UK’s Office of Tax Simplification (OTS). The appointments were announced as MPs were set to debate a finance bill amendment intended to ensure that the OTS is seen to be independent of the government.

OTS Chair Angela Knight said the new directors’ skills and experience will increase the office’s ability to provide “excellent advice on how to take forward the strategy and simplify the tax system for business and for individuals”.

Read more: My news story for Tax Notes 29 August (paywall) published by Tax Analysts.