Media and politics

If the government chooses to raise taxes as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, it should go for a one-off wealth tax, says a commission of experts.

Report on the 2020 Scottish National Party Conference (online) – 28 – 30 November 2020.

The SNP were the last of the major parties to hold their autumn conference, with an online gathering that began on 28 November and concluded on St. Andrew’s Day, 30 November, with an address to delegates from Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

As with other recent SNP conferences, detailed discussions on tax policy were absent from the main agenda. Nevertheless, a headline-grabbing policy announcement from the first minister, together with some mentions across a smattering of debates and fringe events, as well as recent debates in the Scottish Parliament – help give us an indication of the party’s approach to tax policy in the lead up to next May’s Scottish Parliament elections.

MPs debated the Work and Pensions Committee’s report on the response of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to COVID-19, last Thursday (26 November).

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is looking at what happens at the UK Border when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020. The Committee has questioned senior officials from a number of government departments on the Government’s preparedness for the end of the transition period.

The House of Commons Treasury Committee held an evidence session on Wednesday 18 November as part of its inquiry into Tax after Coronavirus. The inquiry is examining the tax system following the reconstruction of the economy after the unprecedented economic fallout of the pandemic.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee held a session with representatives of HMRC and the Treasury on Thursday 12 November 2020 as part of its inquiry into COVID-19 and employment. The hearing focused on the job support schemes implemented since the start of the pandemic. Witnesses from HMRC at this session were Jim Harra, Chief Executive, and Jo Rowland, Temporary Director General, COVID-19 Response Unit. Witnesses from the Treasury were Beth Russell, Director General for Tax and Welfare, and Sir Tom Scholar, Permanent Secretary. The MPs referred to a recent NAO report ‘Implementing employment support schemes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’, but the questions and comments covered a much wider area.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held a meeting on Monday 16 November 2020 with HMRC officials Jim Harra (Chief Executive), Angela MacDonald (Deputy Chief Executive) and Justin Holliday (Chief Finance Officer). The meeting was PAC’s annual look at HMRC’s Standard Report and the department’s annual report and accounts.

The Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee took evidence from John Cullinane, CIOT’s director of public policy and Charlotte Barbour, director of taxation with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) last week (4 November) as part of their scrutiny of the 2021-22 Scottish Budget.

You can watch a video of the session (starting from 10:53:09) on the Scottish Parliament website by clicking here. The official report of proceedings can also be found on the Scottish Parliament’s website here.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee held a session with the Tax Minister Jesse Norman on Monday (2 November), as part of its inquiry into draft Finance Bill 2020-2021.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee’s Finance Bill Sub-Committee held an inquiry into proposals for new tax checks on licence renewal applications. Witnesses were from the Institute of Licensing, National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers, British Metals Recycling Association, Licensed Taxi Drivers Association and Licensed Private Hire Car Association.