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New Finance Bill set to be second longest Finance Act ever
by Susie Hughes at 19:46 12/09/17 (News on Business)
The new Finance Bill is set to become one of the longest pieces of financial legislation in history - rivalling a Dostoevsky novel.
But the responsibility for its length cannot lie totally with current Chancellor, Philip Hammond, as most of the measures in this Budget originated before his time at the Treasury, in particular they result from the 2016 Budget, which contained 50 new tax measures.

By contrast, the 2017 Budget was the slimmest in a long time, with just 14 new tax measures.

John Cullinane from the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), said: “The contents of the Bill are pretty much as we expected – that is, the measures dropped from the pre-election Finance Bill.

“The most significant measures in the Bill are probably changes to corporation tax and to the regime for non-UK domiciles. The two schedules on corporation tax loss relief and interest deductibility now run to 303 pages between them, not far off half the Bill on their own.

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"The Bill also contains clauses paving the way for Making Tax Digital, substantial changes to the rules for fulfilment businesses and a range of anti-avoidance measures, including penalties for enablers of avoidance schemes.

“Despite the pre-election Bill being split in two, the current Bill, assuming it is passed intact, will still be the second longest Finance Act ever. At 674 pages it will be beaten only by the 703 page Finance Act 2012.

"While much of the new legislation will only apply to larger businesses this will still represent a further complicating of the tax system, both by lengthening the code and through the process of change. Feedback from taxpayers indicates that the pace of change itself is one of the biggest factors in making the tax system complicated for its users."

Better Budgets
The CIOT has already compiled its recommendations for Better Budgets:

  • 1. Stick to the commitment to a single principal annual fiscal event and cut down Budget measure proliferation.
  • 2.Establish clear guiding principles and priorities for tax policy. Early statement in a new Parliament to spell out priorities for and approach to tax system
  • 3.Extend the road-map approach. Corporate Tax Road Map model could be applied much more widely.
  • 4.Start consultation at an earlier stage.Too many consultations begin when key decisions have already been made
  • 5.Develop more active approaches to consultation> Seek out consultees proactively. Give respondents feedback.
  • 6. Prepare the ground for future reform – and engage the public. Use independent external reviews. More active public engagement with the policy making process
  • 7.Address the perceived capability gap around tax policy making. Treasury and HMRC need to address perceived gaps in tax policy making capability. Build on initiatives aimed at allowing insiders to develop deeper tax expertise in HMT ande policy expertise in HMRC. Manage concerns about external secondees
  • 8.Overhaul internal processes. More challenge to tax and Budget policy making. Make decisions more collectively, with a small Budget Cabinet Committee. More powerful early expert challenge. NAO scrutiny of spending-like tax reliefs. Independent challenge to business impact assessments
  • 9.Enhance Parliament’s (and the public’s) ability to scrutinise tax proposals. More transparency from Government, with clearer documentation. Finance Bill oral evidence sessions. Better liaison between parliamentary committees looking at tax. More standing expert support on tax for Parliament.
  • 10. Institutionalise and enable evaluations of tax measures.
    Effective and routine post-legislative review of whether measures are achieving their objectives at acceptable cost. Parliament should hold government to account for this. Data more accessible.

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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2017
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