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This article first appeared in the Western Mail's opinion page on Friday 14 September 2018

An annual Welsh Finance Bill is essential if we are to lay solid foundations for tax policy changes and raise the level of debate.

The second reading of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-19 – a general debate on all aspects of the Bill - and all remaining stages took place in the House of Lords on 4 September. The Bill is a Supply Bill. The House of Lords cannot amend Supply Bills so committee stage, report stage and third reading are just formalities. As both Houses have agreed on the text of the Bill it now waits for the final stage of Royal Assent. A date for Royal Assent has yet to be set. This is a complex piece of legislation and consists of 58 clauses and nine schedules.

HMRC senior management answered questions on country by country reporting, fraud and error in tax credits, customer service, the legality of HMRC's voice biometrics programme, the cost of tax reliefs, registers of beneficial ownership and VAT compliance (especially in relation to online platforms). The final part of the session was spent on Brexit and customs, and included the revelation that the 'third release' of the new Customs Declaration System will been delayed to March 2019, so HMRC are testing a strategy of using CHIEF (the existing system) for exports and CDS for imports for a period.

I took part in a recent CIOT/IFS debate in London titled Taxing Families: 30 years after the introduction of independent taxation, have we got it right? The debate raised important questions. Who benefited from its introduction and who lost? How best do we support families?

The House of Lords External Affairs Sub- committee held the final two evidence sessions of its inquiry into Brexit and customs arrangements last week (July 19). In the first session evidence was given by Jon Thompson, Chief Executive, HMRC and Jim Harra, Deputy Chief Executive, HMRC. In the second session Financial Secretary Mel Stride and DExEU minister Robin Walker were the witnesses. The Chairman of the committee is Baroness Verma. Most of the questions related to the White Paper in which the Government outlined a facilitated customs arrangement (FCA).

MPs have approved the Trade Bill - the companion bill to the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill – which covers non-tariff barriers in relation to ‘transitioning’ the EU’s trade agreements to UK agreements.

Two new clauses and 50 amendments were passed to the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill (also known as the customs bill) at its report stage this week (Monday 16 July). The most significant of these were amendments tabled by the European Research Group (ERG) of ‘Brexiteer’ Conservative backbenchers designed for the most part to prevent the government agreeing too close a relationship with the EU. These were accepted by the government, though two were opposed by the opposition and some Conservative MPs, and passed by just three votes in each case.

It is 30 years since legislation was introduced to move from a system of taxation where husbands and wives were taxed jointly to one where they are taxed independently. With this in mind, the latest CIOT and IFS Debate was titled Taxing Families: 30 years after the introduction of independent taxation, have we got it right? It was held before an audience of civil servants, tax professionals, economists and journalists, in the RSA’s Great Room on 26 June 2018.

The Treasury Committee has held its first evidence session as part of its inquiry into VAT as part of its wider work on Securing the Tax Base. Discussion covered VAT after Brexit, regulation of online marketplaces such as Amazon, the Uber business model, VAT planning by NHS trusts, the scale of the tax gap, Making Tax Digital and VAT, tackling VAT errors, VAT support for small businesses and VAT boundary issues.

A discussion on tax after Brexit became an opportunity for general reflections on the tax system and potential future reforms, at the latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Responsible Tax.