TaxPersonal TaxLeader – Time for sensible debate.

Leader - Time for sensible debate.

Just as estimates of the number of job losses that would result from a hunting ban were halved this week following publication of the Burns report, suggestions that as many as 40,000 consultants will leave the UK as a result of the government's IR35 legislation will prove exaggerated.

But, as we report in this week’s Accountancy Age, the threat by individual contractors to quit the UK because of IR35 is far from idle. The row has raged for a year and, as Dawn Primarolo admits in the accompanying piece, has attracted more controversy than any other tax change this year.

But while recognition of the strong feelings it has stirred is welcome, ministers show little sign of an increased willingness to listen. IR35, of course, was swiftly followed by the controversy surrounding changes to the tax treatment of multinational companies. Again corporate giants, including Vodafone, have threatened to take part of their operations abroad.

All of this is part of the cut and thrust of politics and consultation.

Controversial proposals of legislative change are routinely followed by dramatic threats of consequence. But this tried and trusted formula does both sides little credit. Genuine cases of difficulty get ignored amid disputes about the overall numbers.

It might sound a little old fashioned but wouldn’t a return to sensible debate about legislative change better serve the interests of both sides?

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