Next year’s Finance Bill will include an overhaul of the controversial Information Powers which control how and when HMRC can ask for information from taxpayers and what types of data it can request.
Finance Bill 2011 will see 25 of the existing powers repealed and replaced with a new single power.
HMRC’s new Information Powers were first introduced in 2008, as part of an alignment exercise following the merger of HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue.
The debate stemmed from Schedule 36 of the Finance Bill 2008, which set out various information and inspection powers HMRC wanted to implement, but controversially did not offer a right of appeal for the taxpayer. (Rebecca Benneyworth and Nichola Ross Martin were among those voicing concerns about the impact of these measures on AccountingWEB at the time).
In April 2009 HMRC updated these measures, extending the amount of time within which the HMRC can demand information from organisations’ statutory books and records from one year to six.
The new rules are aimed at consolidating the existing powers into one, more manageable set of legislation. “The new rules won’t affect taxpayers, it’s aimed at data holders, ie people with information that HMRC needs. There are 16 categories of data holder specified in the legislation, including financial institutions and insurance brokers,” Richard Davey of HMRC Powers told AccountingWEB.