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CIOT Welcomes UK Commitment To Earlier Tax Consultations

by Jason Gorringe,, London

11 December 2017

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed the promise from the UK Government that it will hold more early-stage policy consultations and reintroduce the online tax consultation tracker.

The pledge was made in a new tax consultation timetable, released on December 6, 2017, which said that the Government will release consultations on proposed tax policy changes significantly ahead of their announcement in the Autumn Statement, which will become the UK's single annual Budget.

CIOT Tax Policy Director John Cullinane said: "This is a very helpful document which sets down in writing the Government's commitment to further improvements to the process for making tax policy."

"In particular we welcome the commitment 'to consult more frequently from an earlier stage of policy development.' More early-stage consultation was a central recommendation of the Better Budgets report, published in January 2017 by CIOT, the Institute for Government, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies."

"Too many consultations begin when key decisions have already been made, shutting off potential better options to achieve the same goal. Calls for evidence, like the one launched last week on 'rent a room relief,' and early-stage consultations, such as that on corporate tax and the digital economy, launched on Budget day, are hopeful early signs that the Government will be doing more early consultation, getting input from business, tax professionals, and others to inform the process before a proposal has been drawn up."

"A regularly updated tax consultation tracker is something else we have been making the case for, both in 'Better Budgets' and in ongoing discussions with Treasury and HMRC officials. We are pleased that the Government have confirmed their intention to re-introduce such a tracker, and we look forward to the promised further details before the end of 2017."

"The Government's recommitment to just one fiscal event a year – with the 'Spring Statement' having a more limited role – is welcome. The move to a single fiscal event is something the CIOT and our Better Budgets partners had argued for. We believed that it would enable more time to be spent on consultation and scrutiny and would reduce the strain that two big fiscal events a year put on government and consultees alike. This isn't just about enabling organizations like CIOT to do more. It offers more opportunity for outreach to bring in views from a wider range of consultees."

However CIOT identified areas where the Government could go further. Cullinane stated: "Parliamentary scrutiny of tax legislation still has a lot of scope for improvement. In particular we believe oral evidence sessions before Finance Bill public bill committee, bringing in both expert witnesses and representatives from groups affected by particular changes, could lead to better-informed policy-making. This has cross-party support in Parliament yet the Government seem reluctant to allow it. Also, the consultation process should not end with the passage of legislation. There is room for more effective and systematic post-implementation reviews to determine whether measures are achieving the objectives set out for them."

TAGS: Finance | Budgets | tax | business | United Kingdom | professionals | legislation | Tax

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