Press release: CIOT warns of dangers of rushing through Finance Bill

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has written to Chancellor Philip Hammond urging him not to rush through a large number of tax changes without any real parliamentary scrutiny.

Following the announcement of a snap election on June 8th the timetable for Finance Bill 2017 will inevitably be truncated. Rather than the expected two days of House of Commons debate and 14-20 standing committee sessions, plus two days of report stage and third reading debate, precedent suggests that the committee and report stages will be compressed into a single day.

At 762 pages the current Finance Bill is the longest on record.

The CIOT is urging the Government to drop the majority of the current Bill and keep only those measures essential to maintain the Government’s revenue raising capacity, such as renewing the provision of income tax, and other measures which are required urgently, such as anti-avoidance provisions. Measures dropped could be reintroduced in a post-election Finance Bill where they can be scrutinised at greater length.

In the letter, CIOT President Bill Dodwell says:

“I am writing on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Taxation to urge you not to rush through Parliament substantial tax changes prior to the forthcoming general election.

“We recognise the need to pass a basic Finance Bill before the election, containing those measures essential to the continuation of the tax system - primarily the renewal of income tax. This could also reasonably confirm changes to levels of duties announced on Budget day, and any other measures which are required urgently, such as anti-avoidance provisions. However, we believe most other measures should be left until a post-election Finance Bill where they can be scrutinised at greater length.

“This is not simply about the formality of parliamentary debate. Since the Finance Bill was published on 20 March, the Chartered Institute of Taxation has identified a number of changes that we believe are needed to the legislation on areas including in complicated areas such as loss relief and interest deductibility. No doubt other external bodies have identified concerns too. A truncated timetable - rushing through 762 pages of legislation in a single day or even two days next week – will not allow for adequate consideration of the matters we have raised.

“A post-election Finance Bill would also enable more of the framework for Making Tax Digital to be put in statute, rather than brought in through regulations.

“The CIOT acknowledges, and welcomes, improvements in the level of consultation on tax issues by the Government over recent years. Our recent report, with the Institute for Government and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, on Tax Policy Making included recommendations for better scrutiny by Parliament of new legislation. We hope you will be able to reassure us that these general improvements on consultation will not be undermined by the rushing through of a huge Finance Bill without the chance of amendments and scrutiny in the final days of this Parliament.”

The CIOT has copied its letter to the Shadow Chancellor and the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee.

Notes for editors

  1. The lengthiest elements of the current Finance Bill are:
  • Corporate interest restriction – 156 pages
  • Relief for carried-forward losses for corporates – 116 pages
  • Trading and property businesses income and two new related allowances – 53 pages
  • Soft drinks industry levy – 35 pages
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