Media and politics

Think tanks are an important part of the tax policy process. Operating outside of political parties (though often with close affiliations to a particular party or wing of it) they have more licence to engage in free-thinking and to float radical new ideas, starting a debate before politicians are committed to a particular proposal. Keeping up with what well-connected think-tanks are advocating is a help in anticipating what a party, or even the government, may be thinking before it has been announced, especially as there is something of a ‘revolving door’ between the world of think-tanks and that of political advisers to ministers and their opposition counterparts.

The Public Accounts Committee has begun an inquiry into Tackling the Tax Gap. The first oral evidence session took place on Monday 7 September with witnesses Jim Harra, Chief Executive, HMRC; Penny Ciniewicz, Director General, Customer Compliance Group, HMRC; and Beth Russell, Director General, Tax and Welfare, HM Treasury.

The Treasury Committee held the first oral evidence session of its Tax after Coronavirus inquiry this week (1 Sept). The witnesses were Paul Johnson, Director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Dr Gemma Tetlow, Chief Economist at the Institute for Government, Mike Brewer, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Economist at the Resolution Foundation, and Professor Philip Booth, Senior Academic Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs. They spoke for greater neutrality in employment taxes and better taxation of property.

In a guest blog for our website, Dan Mitchell, co-founder of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, expands on comments he made in a recent BBC World Service The Real Story podcast in which he made a case for tax havens. Dan Mitchell is a public policy economist in Washington DC.

This is a reproduction of a comment article written by John Cullinane, Tax Policy Director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation, which appeared in The Independent on Monday (24 August 2020).

By Joanne Walker CIOT Scottish Technical Officer.

As debates continue over whether Holyrood has sufficient powers to weather the coronavirus economic storm, we shouldn’t lose sight of the need to ensure that its tax powers remain fit for purpose. Scotland’s devolved tax system already looked like being an election hotspot before Covid-19. It is likely to be thrust into even sharper focus as ministers balance the costs of their existing commitments against the price of lockdown. It is a scenario that reminds us that the case for improving the scrutiny of Scottish taxes has never been stronger.

The House of Commons Treasury Committee took oral evidence from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, officially as part of its inquiry into the economic impact of coronavirus, though other issues were also covered. Also attending was Dan York-Smith, Director of Strategy, Planning and Budget, at the Treasury.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published a report that looks at Management of Tax Reliefs. In it the PAC argues that the Government knows too little about the tax reliefs it provides: whether they work, or offer value for money, or even how much they actually cost.

The Finance Bill and Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Bill passed their House of Lords stages today (17 July). Debate on the two bills was combined. There were concerns about the winners of the stamp duty cut, the IR35 changes and exchanges about the loan charge.

The House of Commons Treasury Committee has launched a new inquiry called ‘Tax after coronavirus’. The inquiry was launched by commitee chair Mel Stride and his fellow committee member Angela Eagle at an online event hosted by CIOT earlier today.