Attempts to limit the radical extension of Revenue powers to include those
inherited from Customs, following the merger of the two departments, have been
flatly rejected by the government.
Financial secretary Jane Kennedy turned down a Liberal Dem bid during Finance
Bill debates that demanded transitional arrangements to be written into primary
legislation instead of being brought in by ministerial order.
The controversial powers would see Revenue officials have the right to arrive
unannounced at taxpayers’ homes and offices, as well as at the officers of their
tax advisers, to gather information.
Kennedy insisted, during standing committee proceedings, that with proper
safeguards, ‘HMRC will conduct itself with those new powers appropriately,’ when
they come into force in April next year
Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne countered that the ICAEW, PwC and other
organisations were concerned that opinions gathered during consultation just
before this year’s Budget were being ignored and that the consultation was
merely designed ‘to offer reassurance rather that genuinely seek ideas to
improve the legislation’.
Tory MP David Gauke protested that the Finance Bill was the wrong vehicle for
extending powers and complained that contained ‘plenty about powers and
deterrents but precious little about safeguards’.
There were also concerns that the new powers could be used for ‘fishing
But Kennedy said the powers would not be used for that purpose.
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