Discount ruling ‘unfair’.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has been warned he will be breaching the Taxpayers’ Charter if he does not extend provision for £10 discounts to agents who file their clients’ tax returns electronically. The charter stipulates all taxpayers should be treated the same, an aspect that would be broken according to furious tax practitioners unless the discount is offered to agents as well as small businesses and individuals which submit electronically. Revenue officials have recently published details of the discounts, which will be given to individuals and small businesses, but do not mention discounts on returns filed by agents. John Whiting, Chartered Institute of Taxation vice-president and PwC partner, said: ‘This ruling breaches the idea that all taxpayers are the same because it is saying to taxpayers if you use a practitioner you are not eligible for the discount. ‘Online filing runs the risk of failure if it does not apply to agents as it is more likely they will have the facilities to submit returns electronically.’ The scheme, which begins in April and will last for a year, offers a £10 discount to individuals who submit their return over the internet. A discount of £100 is available to small businesses that file their VAT returns or PAYE end-of-year returns electronically. Discounts are being offered to encourage the use of the internet by individuals and businesses and, according to experts, should produce long-term savings for the Revenue. Richard Shooter, chairman of the Tax Monitoring Group, said he also believed the discount ruling was ‘unfair’ and amounted to a breach of the Charter. He added: ‘The amount of discount offered is peanuts and has no credibility because it doesn’t give anything to agents. According to the Revenue it may not have the facilities in place to be able to actually give the discount until January next year.’

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