Prime Minister Theresa May declared that she will seek “legally binding changes” to her Brexit deal after members of Parliament voted to back a new proposal to replace the Northern Ireland backstop.
But a spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk told reporters, in response to a series of House of Commons votes late on January 29, that “the backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation”.
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), published January 30, also published in the February 4 edition of Tax Notes International:
May to Seek ‘Binding Changes’ as MPs Oppose No-Deal Brexit
HM Revenue & Customs defended its implementation of devolved income tax rates as tax professionals reported errors in the identification of Scottish taxpayers.
HMRC was unable to provide the National Audit Office with an action plan for the implementation of Welsh income tax, setting out “lessons learned” from the earlier implementation of Scottish income tax, the NAO said in a January 24 report. The plan was drawn up after a July 2017 event attended by HMRC staff involved in the Scottish project…
My news story for Tax Notes (free to view), published January 25:
HMRC Defends Devolution Record Amid Tax Code Error Reports
A no-deal Brexit cannot be “managed” and is “certainly not desirable,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, Confederation of British Industry director general, as business leaders expressed frustration over the continued political impasse.
“The responsibility to ensure an orderly exit is now in Parliament’s hands. Each MP is democratically chosen to safeguard the security and prosperity of our country. And next week they face a test. If they meet it with yet more brinkmanship, the whole country could face a no-deal, disorderly Brexit. The economic consequences would be profound, widespread, and lasting,” Fairbairn told a business audience in Bristol January 11…
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), published January 12:
U.K. Business Leaders Vent Frustration Ahead of Brexit Vote
Other stories published in week of January 7:
Labour Leader Prioritizes Election and a New Brexit Deal
MPs Vote to Tighten Grip on Brexit Process
‘Stormont Lock’ Fails to Win DUP Support for Brexit Backstop
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.
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
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.
HM Revenue & Customs could use its “care and management” powers to reach a compromise with taxpayers facing the 2019 loan charge and avoid resorting to bankruptcy proceedings, a tax expert told members of Parliament.
“My personal viewpoint is that HMRC does have discretion to enter into a settlement arrangement with these individuals,” Chartered Institute of Taxation President Ray McCann told the House of Commons Treasury Subcommittee on December 10, in response to questions about the retroactive charge. My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), December 11, also published in the December 17 edition of Tax Notes International:
HMRC Discretion Is Key to Resolving Loan Charge Dispute, MPs Told
The Chartered Institute of Taxation has warned that “tinkering constantly with rates and allowances in unexpected ways” undermines stability and certainty and reduces international competitiveness. Several changes to tax allowances for businesses are “quietly working their way through Parliament” in the finance bill, the CIOT noted. Taxpayers do not welcome surprise changes and find them disruptive, it said.
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), December 8: https://www.taxnotes.com/worldwide-tax-daily/tax-policy/tinkering-uk-tax-reliefs-undermines-stability-ciot-says/2018/12/10/28nvq
A House of Lords committee called for a review of the powers available to HM Revenue & Customs, arguing that some powers granted since 2012 are disproportionate and lack effective safeguards for taxpayers.
“HMRC is right to tackle tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. However, a careful balance must be struck between clamping down and treating taxpayers fairly. Our evidence has convinced us that this balance has tipped too far in favour of HMRC and against the fundamental protections every taxpayer should expect,” said Lord Forsyth, chair of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), December 4: https://www.taxnotes.com/worldwide-tax-daily/tax-policy/peers-call-review-disproportionate-hmrc-powers/2018/12/04/28n75
This story was also published in the December 10 edition of Tax Notes International.
A House of Commons committee has highlighted concerns about the level of Brexit preparedness at the UK border, telling officials it is “alarming that so little planning has been undertaken” for Northern Ireland.
My news story for Tax Notes (paywall), December 7*:
Other Brexit stories published in the week ending December 7:
Brexit advice vindicates opposition to backstop, Unionists say (December 6*)
Contempt vote forces publication of Brexit legal advice (December 5)
Advocate General’s opinion boosts anti-Brexit campaign (December 5*)
*These stories were also published in the December 10 edition of Tax Notes International.