Finance act gives FDs an unreasonable burden

What are “reasonable” steps to take to ensure you have appropriate systems in
place to reach the right compliance with the tax system? The quote marks around
“reasonable” are deliberate because it’s the very issue many finance directors
are finding themselves stuck on as they try meet the demands of government
legislation in the Finance Act 2009.

This year’s Budget saw new requirements for finance directors to sign off
personally on their tax accounting to ensure it was all above board. But as a
great raft of companies begin grappling with the new law in wake of 30 September
it remains unclear for many exactly what they have to do. The legislation,
experts report, is vague and unclear, giving few clues to the FD charge with
their implementation. Simply put, FDs have been left with completely inadequate
guidance on what constitutes “reasonable” steps.

This government has campaigned hard over tax. HMRC has taken up the task of
maximising tax revenue and stopping avoidance with great enthusiasm. But
collecting tax is not just about enforcement. It’s also about aiding taxpayers
to meet their obligations. This cannot be achieved without clarity and
requirements in the Finance Act on tax accounting are anything but clear. Indeed
without clarity its not entirely clear what the legislation is for. The
legislation was rushed and unfortunately the hard work and the risk now falls on
FDs. Perhaps this is one piece of legislation that needs overhauling as quickly
as possible.

Further reading

FDs lurch into unknown

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