Opinion Former Article

Tax advisers welcome ‘non-event’ Spring Statement

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed the absence of new tax measures in today’s Spring Statement, in line with the government’s commitment to holding just one fiscal event a year.

Commenting, CIOT Tax Policy Director John Cullinane said:

“Fiscally, today’s statement by the Chancellor was a non-event. And that’s just what we wanted to see.

“Change is one of the greatest causes of complexity in the tax system. Having two major fiscal events a year encouraged government to keep fiddling about with the system, while frequently not allowing enough time to consult on planned changes. Today’s statement shows that the Chancellor is serious about limiting major new tax announcements to just one annual fiscal event – the autumn Budget.

“In due course this should enable officials at HMRC and the Treasury to get off the treadmill of constant change, reducing the strain on the government’s tax policy resources and freeing up time for better consultation and scrutiny of those proposals that are put forward.

“For the time being, however, I suspect that any HMRC bandwidth freed up by the move to a single fiscal event is being taken up by Brexit and planning for the various possible scenarios.”

CIOT also welcomed the confirmation of a number of broad ‘calls for evidence’ today.

John Cullinane said:

“More early stage consultation was – like a single fiscal event – a central recommendation of the Better Budgets report.¹ published in January 2017 by CIOT, the Institute for Government and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

“In the past too many consultations have begun when key decisions have already been made, shutting off potential better options to achieve the same goal. Calls for evidence, like those signalled today on VAT partial exemption and social investment tax relief, among others, show the government recognise this and see value in getting input from business, tax professionals and others to inform the policy process before a proposal has been drawn up.

“Nobody thinks the tax system is perfect, or that it doesn’t need reform. But we need change to be considered, carefully consulted on, and enacted with good warning in line with a coherent and widely understood ongoing strategy.

“With so much uncertainty being generated around Brexit the government at least seem to be doing what they can not to add to it in the tax area.”

Notes for editors

1. Better Budgets was published by the CIOT, Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Government in January 2017. Click here for further information or to read the report.

2. The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT)

The CIOT is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT is an educational charity, promoting education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of our key aims is to work for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s work covers all aspects of taxation, including direct and indirect taxes and duties. Through our Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG), the CIOT has a particular focus on improving the tax system, including tax credits and benefits, for the unrepresented taxpayer.

The CIOT draws on our members’ experience in private practice, commerce and industry, government and academia to improve tax administration and propose and explain how tax policy objectives can most effectively be achieved. We also link to, and draw on, similar leading professional tax bodies in other countries. The CIOT’s comments and recommendations on tax issues are made in line with our charitable objectives: we are politically neutral in our work.

The CIOT’s 18,700 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’, to represent the leading tax qualification.
Contact: Hamant Verma, External Relations Officer, 0207 340 2702 HVerma@ciot.org.uk

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