Wendy Bradley summarises the technical consultation on measures for Finance Bill and highlights where you should exercise your speed reading muscles.
Unless you are a speed reading expert, I can’t imagine you have much time for reading in the eight weeks between 9th December and 3rd February, what with the Christmas party season, Christmas itself and then the tax return deadline.
So the publication on 9th December of the technical consultation on measures for Finance Bill 2016 may have passed you by. There are a mere 645 pages of Draft clauses and explanatory notes for Finance Bill 2016 and another 202 pages of TIINs and other supporting material in the Overview of Legislation in Draft.
To be fair, of course, most of the changes in the Finance Bill have already been announced, consulted on, and in some cases amended as a result of consultation. This “technical consultation” is designed to check whether the legislation works as intended, to give people a chance to spot any unintended consequences or any typos or other howlers. You know, the kind of thing you’d normally pay a professional copy editor and proof reader to do.
Aside from the Finance Bill there are also eight other HMRC consultations open for responses. The gov.uk website helpfully lists them in the order in which they were published, not the order which might actually be useful, the order in which they close, so there’s a handy cut out and keep table below.
Taking them in order, the one about cash, tax evasion and the hidden economy is largely a “blue sky” thinking document. Unless you have a burning interest in the subject and evidence to offer you can safely skip it. The extra statutory concessions to be withdrawn are largely obsolete so, again, unless you deal with a lot of theatrical angels or sub postmasters you can probably ignore that one too. So that’s January freed up for the day job.
Of the four consultations which close on 3rd February, you will already know if you have a specific interest in employer provided living accommodation, and again this is a “blue sky” first stage call for evidence rather than a specific proposal you need to consider. The Stamp Duty consultation is a technical consultation on some draft legislation. Personally I’d say that if you don’t already know what a “deep in the money option” is, you are probably safe to ignore this one, too.
As for the VAT changes, the impact assessment suggests this will most likely affect around 3000 businesses which install solar panels and the like (plus the people wanting solar panels installed, of course) and is a change already in the Finance Bill so there isn’t a lot of scope for influencing change. Similarly the company distributions consultation document accompanies the clauses already in the draft finance bill. Oddly, though, this is a hybrid document - a technical consultation on the clauses already published in the Finance Bill, combined with a bit of stage 1 consultation, basically asking whether a wider review of company distributions would be a good idea. If you have views on that, this might be the place to exercise your speed reading muscles.
There’s a little breathing space till the next deadline, on changes to National Insurance. This was one of the Office of Tax Simplification’s suggestions, but I did a quick scan of the consultation document and it summarises as
2.No, it’s really complicated. And difficult. And
3.We haven’t set a deadline for it. Because, see (1)
If you have views, though, now is the time get involved if you want to influence the direction of travel.
As to the final two, their deadlines are in March which seems a long way off. However if you are involved in the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) you might want to contribute to the call for evidence: again, this early stage in the consultation process is the best time to influence the development of the policy. The final document, on rescoping the Bank Levy from 2021 so that it only covers UK assets and on amending the definition of High Quality Liquid Assets from 2016... well, if you want to contribute to that discussion you’re a better man than I am...
About Wendy Bradley
Wendy Bradley is a retired tax inspector, now working as a freelance journalist.