Press release: Tax advisers welcome ‘non-event’ Spring Statement

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed the absence of new tax measures in today’s Spring Statement, in line with the government’s commitment to holding just one fiscal event a year. 

Commenting, CIOT Tax Policy Director John Cullinane said:

“Fiscally, today’s statement by the Chancellor was a non-event. And that’s just what we wanted to see.

“Change is one of the greatest causes of complexity in the tax system. Having two major fiscal events a year encouraged government to keep fiddling about with the system, while frequently not allowing enough time to consult on planned changes. Today’s statement shows that the Chancellor is serious about limiting major new tax announcements to just one annual fiscal event – the autumn Budget.

“In due course this should enable officials at HMRC and the Treasury to get off the treadmill of constant change, reducing the strain on the government’s tax policy resources and freeing up time for better consultation and scrutiny of those proposals that are put forward.

“For the time being, however, I suspect that any HMRC bandwidth freed up by the move to a single fiscal event is being taken up by Brexit and planning for the various possible scenarios.”

CIOT also welcomed the confirmation of a number of broad ‘calls for evidence’ today.

John Cullinane said:

“More early stage consultation was – like a single fiscal event – a central recommendation of the Better Budgets report1, published in January 2017 by CIOT, the Institute for Government and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

“In the past too many consultations have begun when key decisions have already been made, shutting off potential better options to achieve the same goal. Calls for evidence, like those signalled today on VAT partial exemption and social investment tax relief, among others, show the government recognise this and see value in getting input from business, tax professionals and others to inform the policy process before a proposal has been drawn up.

“Nobody thinks the tax system is perfect, or that it doesn’t need reform. But we need change to be considered, carefully consulted on, and enacted with good warning in line with a coherent and widely understood ongoing strategy.

“With so much uncertainty being generated around Brexit the government at least seem to be doing what they can not to add to it in the tax area.”

Notes for editors

  1. Better Budgets was published by the CIOT, Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Government in January 2017. Click here for further information or to read the report.
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