Women in Tax set tone for better UK policy decisions

The Brexit vote has presented U.K. lawmakers with a “once in a generation” opportunity to improve the tax system, a leading tax expert told participants at a debate held by the Women in Tax network in London two days before Donald Trump’s election victory added further uncertainty to the tax landscape.

Panellists shared their personal views on how a better tax system can be achieved. U.K. tax policy measures often have very vague goals, said Jill Rutter, program director for the Institute for Government think tank.

Read more: My news story for Tax Analysts, 10 November (paywall).

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.

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.

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.

HMRC proposes new penalties for tax avoidance scheme ‘enablers’

A “persistent minority” of professional advisers who seek to exploit tax laws in a way that the UK Parliament never intended will face new penalties, but some tax professionals have expressed concern about the likely scope of reforms announced by the government.

“People who peddle tax avoidance schemes deny the country of vital tax revenue, and this government is determined to make sure they pay. The vast majority of their schemes don’t work and can land their users in court, facing large tax bills and other costs,” Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jane Ellison said. Tough new sanctions will make would-be enablers of tax avoidance think twice, she added …

Tax professionals expressed concern over some aspects of the proposals while emphasising their support for the government’s efforts in tackling aggressive avoidance.

Read more: My news story for Tax Notes 18 August (paywall) published by Tax Analysts.