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Tyrie on Finance Bill 2017: ‘Making Tax Policy Better’

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CHAIRMAN of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie, wrote to John Cullinane, tax policy director of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIoT), yesterday about strengthening scrutiny of the Finance Bill.

Parliament “can and should do a more rigorous job” of scrutinising the tax measures, according to Tyrie.

“It is astonishing that the Finance Bill Committee does not take evidence from those best informed about the subject, before beginning its detailed line-by-line consideration.”

“This should be put right,” he said.

Tyrie continued: “The Finance Bill Committee should begin by holding several oral hearings with tax experts. If well organised, these can help flag up serious shortcomings in the legislation at the start, well before line-by-line scrutiny starts, giving the Government time to remedy defects. Instead of clutching their heads in despair tax experts will acquire a duty.”

Making tax policy better report

Tyrie wrote to present his views to the CIoT, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Institute for Government (IfG) on their report on ‘Better Budgets: Making Tax Policy Better’ to be launched on 16 January.

Tyrie added “I look forward to seeing this timely work from CIoT, the IFS and the IfG.”

The report from the institutes will set out the ways to capitalise and ember the return to one annual fiscal event, for a better tax policy. The report authors are Bill Dodwell, president of the CIOT; Paul Johnson, director of IFS; and Jill Rutter, programme director, IfG.

The CIoT, the IFS and the IfG wrote to the chancellor of the exchequer in September 2016 to make a series of recommendations.

In December last year, Tyrie warned that there was not enough time to implement the plans for Making Tax Digital (MTD) by 2018.

Staffing

In terms of staff, parliament “should accumulate greater expertise” in support of scrutiny of the annual Finance Bills.

“Dumping poor quality tax legislation on to the statute book on a quiet day in Committee should no longer be an option for the Government. None of these proposals require changes to House of Commons procedure. All could improve scrutiny for a better tax system.”

The Treasury Committee on 11 January took evidence from the Bank of England on its Financial Stability Report 2016.

Tyrie commented: “The Governor has given strong advice, both to the UK Government and EU governments. He told that it is “highly advisable” to seek agreement to transitional arrangements. He’s also told the UK’s negotiating counterparts in the EU that they, more than the UK, are vulnerable to financial stability risks. I hope they are all listening.”

Brexit

Additionally, Tyrie recently made comments regarding Brexit at a DLA Piper Future of the City event on 9 January.

He discussed if the UK will seek to remain a member of the single market or not, “at least to obtain equivalent access for trade in goods and services. Clarity on this point would enable Britain to start making a crucial point to our counterparties.”

It was also mentioned by Tyrie that the UK “needs to decide” on whether to participate in a customs union with the EU. Most important of all, that the government should clarify if the UK will seek transitional arrangements under Article 50, providing whether EU treaties will still apply to the UK.

Tyrie said: “On the need for a “standstill”, firms have been making representations. This is understandable. Many of them cannot afford to wait until the completion of the negotiations to find out what action they may need to take to preserve their shareholders’ interests.

Tyrie concluded: “In her New Year message, the Prime Minister rightly talked about securing a deal with the EU that commanded the support of both Leave and Remain voters. That matters a lot. There is almost certainly a majority for a continued close economic and political relationship with the EU.”

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