Brexit dominates the political agenda, but it is by no means the only issue on tax professionals’ minds. Some of the challenges facing tax advisers were addressed by the House of Lords economic affairs committee in December. The committee’s report is essential reading for policymakers.
Concerns expresses by nine tax specialists in my article for a Tolley Tax supplement (not available online) to the January 2019 edition of Tax Adviser included the complexity of tax law, the impact of automation, the quality of HMRC’s service, and the department’s approach to avoidance and evasion.
Prime Minister Theresa May continued to seek reassurances from European leaders about the EU withdrawal agreement as it emerged that most members of her own party would favour a no-deal Brexit.
Three-quarters of respondents in a survey of 1,215 Conservative Party activists said they regarded as “exaggerated or invented” warnings that a no-deal Brexit could cause severe short-term disruption, such as shortages of food and medicines. My news story (paywall) for Tax Notes, January 7:
May Suffers Setback as Conservatives Back No-Deal Brexit
HM Revenue & Customs is seeking feedback on existing processes for amending tax returns, as the January 31 self-assessment deadline approaches with more than 5.5 million returns outstanding.
My news story (paywall) for Tax Notes, January 3:
HMRC Consults on Tax Return Processes as Deadline Approaches
Theresa May spoke to EU leaders over Christmas to seek “further reassurances” to shore up her Brexit deal, while Jean-Claude Juncker appealed for clarity about future EU-UK relations.
My news story (paywall) for Tax Notes, January 2:
May Seeks EU Leaders’ Assurances Ahead of Brexit Vote
Leaving the EU on terms that members of Parliament will be asked to approve in January would make a potentially “very massive” UK-US trade deal unlikely, said Woody Johnson, US ambassador to the United Kingdom.
My news story (paywall) for Tax Notes, January 2:
Brexit Vote Could Prevent Bilateral Trade Deal, U.S. Envoy Says
A key aim of the Making Tax Digital service is to ‘close the tax gap due to errors with people making their VAT returns’, according to HMRC. An alternative – and perhaps better – way to deploy technology to improve compliance is set out in an Office of Tax Simplification report. Better HMRC guidance, the OTS says, is likely to lead to more accurate tax reporting and ‘help to close the tax gap, as taxpayers should have a better understanding of HMRC’s view of the law’. Read more:
My article for Accounting and Business January 2019, published (free to view) by ACCA.
Tax Notes published (paywall) the following articles in the week of December 24:
VAT Issues Need to Be Addressed in Brexit Talks, MPs Say
A significant reduction in the VAT registration threshold may be imposed on U.K. businesses if a new EU VAT directive takes effect during the proposed Brexit transitional period, a House of Commons committee said.
MPs Seek Finance Bill Change to Steer Brexit Debate
As the U.K. government ramps up preparations for a no-deal Brexit, members of Parliament hope to use a finance bill amendment to force the government to seek Parliament’s consent to such an outcome.
Tax Notes published (paywall) the following articles in the week of December 17:
U.K. DST Not Intended to Resolve Business Rates Issue
There is no formal link between a digital services tax and reductions in business rates, members of Parliament were told two days after they asked Amazon UK to disclose its U.K. sales and tax liabilities.
U.K. Business Groups Urge MPs to Prevent Disorderly Brexit
There is not enough time to prevent “severe dislocation and disruption” in a no-deal Brexit, five U.K. business groups said as they urged members of Parliament to prevent a disorderly exit March 29, 2019.
U.K. Steps Up No-Deal Brexit Plans Amid Anger Over Vote Delay
Cabinet ministers decided to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit, as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s critics denounced her decision to defer a vote on the EU withdrawal agreement until mid-January.
U.K. Tax and Employment Rights Plan Draws Lukewarm Response
Aligning the existing employment status frameworks for tax and employment rights purposes will be difficult if the government continues to rule out changes to national insurance contributions, U.K. tax professionals said.
Juncker Seeks to Lower Temperature After Fraught Brexit Talks
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May maintained that she is still seeking “further assurances” about the proposed Northern Ireland backstop, after EU-27 leaders reiterated that the Brexit deal is “not open for renegotiation.”
Prime Minister Theresa May survived an attempted coup by Eurosceptic Conservatives, winning a vote of confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party amid widespread frustration over the Brexit process.
Conservative members of Parliament voted 200-117 in May’s favour. The secret ballot on December 12 was triggered after Eurosceptic MPs secured the 48 signatures required for a vote. My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), December 13:
Theresa May Survives Conservative Party Confidence Vote
The Scottish government’s tax policies will continue to focus on fairness and investment in public services, Derek Mackay, cabinet secretary for finance, economy and fair work, said as he delivered his budget.
But Mackay ignored the pleas of business groups who had expressed concerns over a “growing tax gap” between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, according to Murdo Fraser, Conservative member of the Scottish Parliament and shadow finance secretary. My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), December 13:
Scottish Higher Rate Threshold Frozen Amid ‘Tax Gap’ Concerns