The Treasury Committee is looking at the UK’s proposed customs policies and procedures once the transition period expires on 31 December 2020.

Normal politics were on hold at the online Conservative Party Conference, with shortened speeches and curtailed policy debate. The Chancellor committed himself to putting the “overwhelming might of the British state” at the service of struggling businesses and workers, but said that the books would need to be balanced eventually. On the fringe, and in media interviews and reports, there are clues as to which taxes are likely to rise. 

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee’s Finance Bill Sub-Committee is looking at Draft Finance Bill 2020-21, focusing on three areas of the Bill, all related to the powers of HMRC:

  • New proposals for tackling promoters and enablers of tax avoidance schemes;
  • New tax checks on licence renewal applications; and
  • Amendments to HMRC’s civil information powers.

The Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol (“The Protocol”) is legally effective from 1 January 2021 irrespective of whether a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is agreed or not. And with the deadline approaching fast, it is alarming that there are so many unanswered questions.

The House of Commons Treasury Committee held a hearing on Wednesday 7 October into the future of VAT, as part of their Tax after Coronavirus inquiry. They also questioned the Office of Budget Responsibility as part of the same inquiry.

Amid some signs of a recovery for the Labour Party in the polls, red wall voters still trust the Conservatives to make good on their manifesto promises. But as we emerge from the pandemic and into economic recovery, what does the future hold for UK tax policy. We’ll need to wait a little longer to find out, it seems.

For the first time in a decade the Liberal Democrats’ conference – held online this year – did not pass new tax policy, but new leader Ed Davey reaffirmed some existing commitments and the party backed a UBI. They are also looking into a carbon tax.

Labour’s online ‘alternative to a conference’ saw debates on taxing wealth, business taxes and job protection programmes, but little in the way of policy development, as the new leadership plays it safe and focuses its efforts on holding the government to account.

The House of Commons Treasury Committee has held an evidence session to look at the UK’s proposed customs policies and procedures once the transition period expires on 31 December 2020. Witnesses in the session on Tuesday (22 September) were Allie Renison, Head of EU and Trade Policy, Institute of Directors (IOD); Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy, Logistics UK; Tim Reardon, Head of EU Exit, Port of Dover; and Dr Anna Jerzewska, trade expert.

Given the weakness of the economy, now is not the time for tax rises and ministers should concentrate on protecting the tax base, Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds emphasised during her appearance at Tuesday’s (22 September) CIOT/IFS debate on Tax after the Pandemic, staged as part of Labour Connected, the online Labour Party Conference.