Taxation – Revenue’s code ‘a step forward’

Plans to demystify the government’s approach to tax policy do not go far enough, the Chartered Institute of Taxation said this week.

A joint code of practice on consultation published by the Inland Revenue, Customs & Excise and the Treasury should be extended beyond the confines of the Budget and Finance Bill to include all tax proposals.

Dawn Primarolo, the financial secretary to the Treasury, launched the code last month pledging to consult on tax policy wherever it is ‘sensible’ to do so. She added: ‘This government believes the Budget process has been unnecessarily secretive in the past in some areas of tax policy.’

But the CIoT said the code was a ‘step forward’ rather than a giant leap.

The institute has been pushing for over a year to have consultation as the norm on all tax matters.

John Whiting, the institute’s tax administration sub-committee chairman and Price Waterhouse partner, accepted not all areas of tax policy could be open to consultation – such as whether or not to block an avoidance loophole. But even then, said Whiting, consultation should take place on the mechanics of the change to make sure it works efficiently.

He welcomed Government plans to provide feedback on the results of consultation.

‘We will be looking at the time and effort taxpayers and their representatives put into the consultative process,’ Whiting said. ‘After all, it is very much about all sides working together.’

Related reading