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
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
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.
HM Revenue & Customs seems eager to litigate rather than accept reasonable arguments in tax disputes, even when the prospects of success are “less than 50 per cent,” according to the Chartered Institute of Taxation. The “unwelcome trend” is adding to a growing backlog of appeals for tax tribunals, the CIOT said in response to the House of Commons Treasury Subcommittee’s inquiry into the conduct of tax investigations and the resolution of tax disputes.
My news story of July 6 for Tax Notes (paywall) is now reproduced in full with permission:
HMRC’s Approach to Disputes Worsens Backlog, Tax Bodies Say (pdf)
As I reported, HMRC officials and CIOT president Ray McCann were scheduled to give evidence to the subcommittee’s inquiry on July 9. The evidence session was postponed following the resignations of Brexit secretary David Davis and foreign secretary Boris Johnson over the July 6 Chequers agreement:
My tax compliance update for the May 2018 issue of Tolley’s Tax Digest starts like this:
This Digest draws together and summarises the primary and secondary legislation, and draft income tax and VAT notices, relating to HMRC’s Making Tax Digital project. At the time of writing some commentators had suggested that the implementation of Making Tax Digital for VAT might be deferred in the light of pressures created by the Brexit process, but no announcement had been made. The Office of Tax Simplification recommended in April 2018 ‘urgent work’ to simplify the business tax system. Continue reading “A tax compliance update for Tolley’s Tax Digest”
Last week HM Revenue & Customs apologised for linking to some very old legislation, in a guidance note on new criminal offences, and removed the offending links. HMRC guidance at GOV.UK does not normally include statutory references, but if that is going to change there is a clear risk that the same mistake will be made again.
Legislation.gov.uk is described as “the official place of publication for newly enacted legislation”. Great care is needed in relation to older tax legislation, including some of the major consolidation Acts.
For example, go to Income Tax Act 2007 and you’ll see a prominent warning about an apparently very large number of changes that have not yet been processed. Continue reading “Old versions of tax law on government website – an update”
You can find out about criminal offences relating to offshore income and assets in a new guidance note on HMRC’s website. But the guidance points to some very old tax law.
While HMRC guidance for taxpayers published on GOV.UK does not normally include statutory references, this guidance note has six.
At the time of writing, there are links to sections 7 and 8 of the Taxes Management Act 1970 as reproduced at Legislation.gov.uk, the “official place of publication for newly enacted legislation”.
UPDATE 22 March: HMRC has deleted the links to sections 7 and 8 and apologised for the error.
The problem is that while some progress has been made in processing changes enacted in annual finance acts, Legislation.gov.uk still presents the original versions of some of the key consolidation acts. The original TMA 1970, which turned 48 last week, is here. Continue reading “HMRC guidance points to old tax law”