LORDS

Government taxation plans assessed: Lords report on Finance Bill

17 June 2011

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee reports on aspects of the Government's taxation plans before the House of Commons again discusses this year's Finance Bill at Report Stage.

The committee, which brings together economic and financial experience from business and politics, points to four main areas for Government attention following the extensive evidence which it took from relevant bodies and individual witnesses.

Tax policy

The Government must stick to its own commitment to a new, consultative approach to tax policymaking if it is to achieve its aim of giving the UK the clear, stable and predictable tax system which it needs to be competitive. The Government's new approach is warmly welcomed but has so far not been implemented consistently. The Government's failure to consult on the increased charges on oil and gas production it announced in the Budget was criticised for putting investment in the oil and gas industry at risk. And the lack of sufficient consultation on new provisions against tax avoidance through "disguised remuneration" led to what one commentator described as, "the worst legislation they have ever seen".

Scrutiny

Many witnesses called for earlier Parliamentary scrutiny of the Finance Bill measures, including by the Economic Affairs Committee's Finance Bill Sub-Committee.

Tax avoidance and evasion

The Government must act earlier to curb tax avoidance and evasion. The committee criticises proposed legislation against "disguised remuneration" for tackling the problem too late and for being excessively long and complex. The Government should consult earlier so that it can put forward better Finance Bill legislation. The committee also calls for the Government to develop a strategy to tackle tax evasion.

Corporation tax reforms

The Government should monitor its corporation tax reforms to make sure that they do not accidentally disadvantage particular groups, for example small and medium-sized businesses.

Committee Chairman, Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market, said:

"The Government is on the right track with its commitment to a new approach to tax policymaking which sees it consulting widely about changes before putting them into practice. If the Government sticks to its commitments, the UK will have a better tax system with better laws which are better scrutinised. But there are lessons to be learned from this introduction of the new system which the committee urges the Government to follow."

Further information

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