The new approach to tax policy making: a response to the consultation

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1 The new approach to tax policy making: a response to the consultation December 2010

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3 The new approach to tax policy making: a response to the consultation December 2010

4 Official versions of this document are printed on 100% recycled paper. When you have finished with it please recycle it again. If using an electronic version of the document, please consider the environment and only print the pages which you need and recycle them when you have finished. Crown copyright 2010 You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or ISBN PU1091

5 Contents Page Foreword 3 Chapter 1 Introduction 5 Better tax policy making 5 Building on the new approach 6 Chapter 2 Summary of responses 9 Objectives and overall approach 10 Proposals to promote greater predictability 10 Proposals to promote greater stability 10 Proposals to promote simplicity 14 Proposals to provide for greater scrutiny 15 Proposals to support transparency 16 Other points raised 19 1

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7 Foreword At the Budget, I launched a discussion on the way in which Government makes tax policy. 1 I stated then my desire for a more considered, deliberative approach to tax policy making, with consultation on policy design and scrutiny of draft legislative proposals as the cornerstones. This new approach is vital to the Government s aim of restoring the UK tax system s reputation for predictability, stability and simplicity. Consultation with interested parties over the summer confirmed the importance of that reputation to the competitiveness of the UK economy. This response document provides a summary of our engagement with interested parties and their views, and sets out how we intend to improve the way we make tax policy as a result. Many of those we spoke to have pointed out that good intentions here are welcome, but taxpayers and their advisers will want to see consistency in putting them into practice. We recognise this point and have made a determined start in doing just that. For example we have published a road map for corporate tax reform, setting out our objectives, the principles underpinning our approach and the proposed timetable for the Parliament; and we have given advance notice of the dates of the Budget and future tax consultations. 2 We have also established the Office of Tax Simplification, which is currently considering small business taxation and reviewing all tax reliefs. 3 Today we build on this. We are publishing the vast majority of 2011 Finance Bill clauses, in draft. 4 Alongside this, we have published a supporting document to help taxpayers and tax practitioners navigate the draft legislation. 5 These are further steps forward in terms of improving predictability and transparency, as we set out not only what changes the Government intends to make to the tax system, but also why we seek the changes and what we expect their impacts to be. We have got this far because of genuinely collaborative consultation, listening closely to the views of others. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who worked with us over the summer, and hope that you will continue to work with us to put in place a new approach to tax policy making. David Gauke MP Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury 1 Tax policy making: a new approach, HM Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), June Corporate Tax Reform: Delivering a More Competitive System, HM Treasury and HMRC, November Information is available on the HM Treasury website: 4 Available on the HM Treasury website: 5 Overview of draft legislation for Finance Bill 2011, HM Treasury and HMRC, December

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9 1 Introduction 1.1 The Government wishes to restore the UK tax system s reputation for predictability, stability and simplicity. Alongside the Budget, the Government published proposals to improve the way tax policy is made and has consulted with interested parties on the detail of these proposals over the summer This chapter provides a summary of the ways in which tax policy making will change as a result of consultation on these proposals. It also sets out specific areas where the Government is seeking further input from interested parties. Chapter 2 provides a more detailed summary of the responses received to each proposal and how these responses influenced the outcome of the consultation. Better tax policy making 1.3 The Government is committed to better tax policy making. It recognises that achieving this requires some real and substantive changes to the way in which tax policy is developed, communicated and legislated. Embedding this new approach and delivering these improvements will take time. The Government will always need to ensure it retains the flexibility on tax policy to respond to priorities and immediate issues. However, the Government is today setting out five concrete improvements that it aims to meet wherever possible. It expects these changes to have a tangible impact on the way tax policy is made and communicated: Where the Government is embarking on major areas of tax reform, it will set out its policy objectives and rationale for reform, building on the approach taken in the Corporate Tax Road Map. 2 Tax policies will be developed over a longer policy cycle. The majority of tax measures will be announced at Budgets for inclusion in the Finance Bill the following year at the earliest. The Government today has confirmed the majority of measures for Finance Bill 2011 and will keep to a minimum the number of further measures that are included in that Bill. The Government will use the period between the Budget and the following Finance Bill to consult on proposed policy changes and draft legislation. The Government today has published a draft Tax Consultation Framework that outlines its approach to consultation on tax policy and legislation. 3 In summary, the framework commits to: consulting earlier on tax policy, tailoring the approach to consultation to suit the circumstances; and publishing more legislation in draft, and in particular publishing the majority of Finance Bill clauses in draft, for greater scrutiny, at least 3 months before introduction of the Bill. 1 Tax policy making: a new approach, HM Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), June Corporate Tax Reform: Delivering a More Competitive System, HM Treasury and HMRC, November Available on the HMRC website: 5

10 The Government will take a more strategic approach to avoidance, and its response to significant avoidance risks will be balanced with improving predictability and stability in the tax system. The Government today has published a draft Protocol setting out the circumstances in which it will announce legislative changes with immediate effect outside fiscal events. 4 Acknowledging that anti-avoidance measures have increased complexity and contributed to frequent legislative change, it will also set out, at Budget 2011, a programme of work to review areas of the tax code which have been subject to repeated avoidance attempts. When announcing changes to tax law, the Government will ensure that it clearly sets out what the change is, why it is being proposed and what impact it expects this to have. It will do this through Tax Information and Impact Notes, the first of which have been published today alongside the draft clauses intended for Finance Bill The Government s aim is to reduce the volume and frequency of changes to the tax code and provide greater predictability and transparency in our plans for tax reform. As part of this new approach, the Government will provide advance notice for key events in tax policy development. The Chancellor has already announced that the Budget will be held on 23 March 2011 and the Government today has confirmed that Finance Bill 2011 will be published on 31 March Building on the new approach 1.5 The changes set out above represent the foundations of the new approach to tax policymaking, based on the consultation on the initial proposals. The Government is determined to reinforce the new approach by continuing with this constructive engagement. Specifically, it welcomes feedback from interested parties on: the publication of Finance Bill clauses in draft and the way in which information relating to the draft legislation is communicated, including the new Tax Information and Impact Notes; the draft Tax Consultation Framework; and the draft Protocol for announcing changes to tax law with immediate effect outside fiscal events. 1.6 Please send comments on the publication of Finance Bill clauses in draft and related communications to: Please any comments on the draft Framework to Richard Bowyer: Please any comments on the draft Protocol to Alison Gardiner: 1.7 In addition, the Government will seek feedback from the Tax Professionals Forum. 5 It also expects this forum to challenge the Government if the new approach is not being followed or is not having a demonstrable effect on the predictability, stability and simplicity of the UK tax system. 4 Available on the HMRC website: 5 The Tax Professionals Forum was established in July. More detail can be found on the HM Treasury website at: 6

11 1.8 The Government will continue to look at ways of improving how tax policy is made based on this feedback. If you have any comments on the new approach set out above, or ideas for further improvement, please 6 6 Information provided in response to this request for feedback, including personal information, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information regimes. These are primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Environmental Information Regulations If you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under the FOIA, there is a statutory Code of Practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals with, amongst other things, obligations of confidence. In view of this it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). HM Treasury and HMRC will process your personal data in accordance with the DPA and in the majority of circumstances this will mean that your personal data will not be disclosed to third parties. 7

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13 2 Summary of responses 2.1 The Government s consultation on tax policy making contained 12 specific proposals for potential reforms to the way tax policy is made in the UK. These proposals were: to promote greater transparency, the Government will set out its objectives for major areas of reform, how the reforms will be taken forward and the timetable; to promote greater stability, the Government will: publish a statement on its approach to consultation; consider a new convention to confirm the majority of tax changes at least three months prior to the start of the tax year in which they come into effect or publication of the Finance Bill in which they will be included; take a more strategic approach to tax avoidance and develop a protocol for announcement s taking immediate effect outside fiscal events; and re-examine the case, and scope, for common commencement and announcement dates in the tax system; to promote simplicity, the Government will: create an independent Office of Tax Simplification, with further details announced shortly; and develop a framework for the introduction of new reliefs; to provide for greater scrutiny, the Government will: publish more tax legislation in draft, to allow for pre-legislative scrutiny; and welcome any consideration by the Treasury Committee to review how to strengthen the role of Parliament in scrutinising tax legislation; and to support transparency, the Government will: introduce a tailored Tax Impact Assessment, replacing the current regulatory Impact Assessment used across Government; publish more information on costing of tax policies; improve supporting documentation accompanying tax changes; and consider greater use of sunset clauses for post implementation evaluation. 2.2 These proposals provided the basis for Government engagement with interested parties over the summer. Officials from HM Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have, since June, met representatives from 43 interested organisations to discuss the contents of the consultation document. Written representations from 33 organisations were also received. 2.3 This chapter summarises the responses to each of the above proposals in the order in which they were set out in that document, and how these responses have informed what the 9

14 Government will do next in relation to the proposals. This chapter also summarises comments on a number of issues that were not the subject of specific questions in the consultation document, but that represent common themes in many of the responses received. Objectives and overall approach 2.4 Those who responded to the consultation were supportive of the Government s focus on restoring the UK tax system s reputation for predictability, stability and simplicity. 2.5 The overwhelming majority of those who responded welcomed the approach outlined in the consultation document and believed it has the potential to make significant improvements to the quality of tax law. The most common cause for concern was the likelihood of consistent delivery on the commitments set out in the discussion document. Proposals to promote greater predictability Setting objectives and a timetable for major areas of reform 2.6 The consultation document stated that to promote greater predictability the Government will set out its objectives for major areas of reform, how the reforms will be taken forward and the timetable. 2.7 There was broad support for this suggestion. One of the most consistent messages from those who responded was that when making changes to the tax system the Government should very clearly articulate the policy objective and rationale to make clear what it is trying to achieve and how it fits into the overall approach to that part of the tax system. 2.8 There was also support for the commitment to bring forward a detailed programme of reform on corporate tax reform. There were calls for the Government to follow this approach with other parts of the tax system. Government response 2.9 On 29 November 2010, the Government published a Road Map for Corporate Tax reform. 1 In light of the suggestions received during consultation, the Government will look to use a similar approach when embarking upon other major reforms. Proposals to promote greater stability Consultation on tax policy 2.10 The consultation document stated that to promote greater stability the Government will publish a statement on its approach to consultation. The document also set out proposals for the scope and content of the statement. These proposals were based on a model of the tax policy development process consisting of three stages: stage 1 - set out objectives and identify options; stage 2 determine the best option and develop a framework for implementation, including detailed policy design; and stage 3 draft legislation to effect the proposed change. 1 Corporate Tax Reform: Delivering a More Competitive System, HM Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), November

15 2.11 Almost all respondents discussed the Government s planned statement and were very strongly in support of such a statement. This reaction reflected concerns that the record on tax consultations is mixed; with some examples of good consultation and some which those who responded considered poor Many respondents also specifically supported the Government s model of the tax policy development process. There was particularly strong support for consulting at stage 1 of the policy process, on the objectives and options. Those who responded were keen that the Government should consult on what it hoped to achieve with a proposed change, not just on how it wanted to achieve it. Several respondents saw policy implementation as an additional stage 4, on which consultation was equally important There was strong support for the Government setting out a timetable of consultations to show both how the consultation on a particular proposal will be taken forwards but also how the various consultations the Government might be running will coordinate with each other. The forward-look of Tax consultations announced at Budget released in June 2010 was specifically welcomed A number of respondents supported consultation approaches more tailored to the significance of the change, and a few asked for more innovative engagement mechanisms including online consultations and facilitating anonymous contributions Some of those who responded suggested the consultation process could be improved by the Government making more legal information available. For example, they asserted it might add clarity if consultations included a summary of legal considerations which influenced policy design On balance, workshops and open days were seen as adding value but some of those who responded saw them as exclusive and not truly representative of all views. While informal consultation was seen as often most appropriate (especially early in development), some of those who responded commented on a need for greater transparency on such discussions. Several asserted that HM Treasury and HMRC need to consult more end users such as small businesses, charities and members of the public as well as representative bodies, particularly to test assumptions and anticipated impacts Several respondents expressed concern about consultations which have been undertaken with little realistic prospect of leading to a change in policy. They asserted the importance of only consulting on proposals which are genuinely open to change and being clear from the start what the Government is open to changing and what it is not. Many of those who responded also emphasised the importance of the Government making clear after each consultation exercise how consultation had affected the Government s plans. Government response 2.18 Following consideration of these responses, the Government today is publishing a draft Tax Consultation Framework incorporating the key points raised over the summer. 3 This sets out the approach the Government will take to consultation for most tax policy changes and includes a commitment to explain its reasons for departures from the framework. It will replace HMRC s existing consultation framework Comments are invited on the draft Tax Consultation Framework. Please any comments by 23 February 2011 to Richard Bowyer: The final framework will be published and put into operation by the Budget on 23 March Available on the HM Treasury website: 3 Available on the HMRC website: 11

16 2.20 The Government will also continue to develop and improve the consultation tracker page published on the HM Treasury website shortly after the June Budget. 4 Consultation on tax legislation 2.21 The consultation document stated that to promote stability the Government would consider a new convention to confirm the majority of tax changes at least three months prior to the start of the tax year they come into effect or publication of the Finance Bill in which they will be included. In practice this would mean the majority of Finance Bill clauses being published, in draft, three months before formal publication, with a similar approach being taken, where appropriate, in respect of significant statutory instruments. The consultation document proposed a minimum of eight weeks for comment on draft Finance Bill clauses There was broad support for this commitment. Respondents felt this would help produce a longer and more considered policy cycle which would improve the quality of tax policy and legislation. Several respondents welcomed the proposal for a minimum of eight weeks for comments on draft Finance Bill legislation. There were calls for allowing 12 weeks to comment on draft primary legislation and eight weeks for consultation on draft secondary legislation (rather than the 4 weeks suggested). Further, some respondents felt secondary legislation should be afforded the same period of consultation as primary legislation Some respondents highlighted a potential difficulty with this approach that it might lead to a bunching of work for those scrutinising draft legislation if all new tax changes are confirmed at the same time three months before the Finance Bill is published. There were also concerns on whether the Government would have the resources to manage this and whether interested parties would be able to contribute fully, especially as it may coincide with the busy year-end for some While views were mixed on the best time to publish draft legislation the balance of opinion was that draft legislation should not be shared until the policy had been settled and the legislation well developed. In order for consultation on draft legislation to be meaningful, respondents wanted to be sure that they were looking at a near-final version of the legislation, certainly after all design issues had settled Some respondents also argued that on occasions it would be helpful to involve Parliamentary Counsel in discussions on draft legislation. Government response 2.26 The draft Tax Consultation Framework published today includes specific commitments on the publication of both primary and secondary legislation, in draft, for scrutiny. The Government will aim to confirm the majority of measures for inclusion in the Finance Bill and publish consolidated draft clauses, at least three months prior to introduction. This will provide taxpayers with more certainty and provides a greater window for pre-legislative scrutiny Publishing draft legislation at this point will allow for a minimum of eight weeks for consultation. The shorter time period reflects the fact that comments at this stage should be focused on the technical detail of the legislation and is also necessary to allow comments received to be reflected in the final legislation. In most cases there will already have been consultation on the policy design, and in some cases the draft legislation may already have been exposed for earlier comment The Government today is publishing draft clauses for inclusion in the 2011 Finance Bill, with nine weeks for consultation. 5 4 Available on the HM Treasury website: 12

17 2.29 The Government recognises the concerns about bunching of work for those interested in scrutinising draft legislation. Where it is possible to do so, the Government will publish detailed proposals and draft legislation earlier, particularly where the policy is particularly complex or significant. This is the approach the Government has taken this autumn, with early publication of consultations and draft legislation on the Bank Levy and changes to pension tax relief. A strategic approach to tax avoidance 2.30 The consultation document stated that the Government will take a more strategic approach to the risk of avoidance to prevent increasing complexity and reduce the need for frequent legislative change. The document also set out the proposed elements of this new approach, which included exploring the case for a General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR) and publishing a protocol for legislative changes taking immediate effect outside fiscal events A frequent comment was that the increasing volume of anti-avoidance legislation had increased the complexity of the tax system. Respondents welcomed the suggestion that the Government take a more strategic approach to tax avoidance. Many respondents thought that greater clarity about the purpose of legislation would prevent avoidance and make it easier to counter. Respondents recognised the need for a protocol for announcements coming into effect with immediate effect, outside fiscal events. They felt that restricting the number of such announcements would help with the Government s desire to improve the certainty and stability of the tax system, but acknowledged that there were always likely to be occasions when such announcements were necessary Some respondents suggested that the timing of such announcements and the way the Government communicated them should be improved. While recognising the difficulties, several people emphasised the importance of the Government making any announcements as early as possible in the day if they have immediate effect Again while recognising the difficulties several respondents suggested that such announcements should have some scrutiny either after they had been made or possibly in advance by a standing panel of experts Alongside the consultation on tax policy making, HMRC also undertook an informal consultation on the case for a GAAR. There were mixed views on the appropriateness of a GAAR. A significant number of respondents thought that a GAAR might be appropriate as long as it was clear, allowed the removal of some anti-avoidance legislation and was supported by a clearance regime. Others thought that the current combination of approaches to tackle avoidance and the attitude of the courts was effective and that a GAAR was not currently needed. Those who expressed concern pointed to the risk of a GAAR creating additional uncertainty for taxpayers and the difficulties in drafting an effective rule. Government response 2.35 Recognising the impact that anti-avoidance legislation has on complexity and uncertainty for businesses at large, the Government will take a more strategic approach to avoidance. The Government will bring forward at Budget 2011 a programme of work to review areas of the tax code which have been subject to repeated avoidance attempts The Government recognises that there are mixed views on the case for developing a GAAR, but is keen to consider the matter further. As announced on 6 December, the Government has commissioned Graham Aaronson QC to carry out a study to consider whether a GAAR could be framed that would be effective in the UK tax system and, if so, how the provisions of a GAAR 5 Available on the HM Treasury website: 13

18 might be framed. The aim of the study will be to consider the scope and design of a GAAR capable of providing certainty about the tax treatment of transactions without imposing undue costs on business and individuals and with acceptable impact on HMRC resources To support greater predictability, the Government intends to minimise the number of changes to the tax code which have immediate effect. The Government today is publishing a draft Protocol on the circumstances in which the Government will announce legislative changes which have immediate effect, outside fiscal events. 6 Please any comments on the draft Protocol to Alison Gardiner: Common commencement and announcement 2.38 In the consultation document the Government invited views on whether there is a case for further rationalisation of the dates on which tax changes are announced and come into effect. The Government committed to bringing forward detailed proposals for wider consultation if the initial consultation revealed a good case for change There was some support for common commencement and announcement dates or at least a more predictable pattern to change and its announcement. Some small firms, in particular, were attracted to the idea of a common announcement date. However, many other respondents considered flexibility to be important and said it was more important that measures commenced on a sensible date and that sufficient notice was given rather than having all measures coming into effect on the same date. Some respondents also recommended extending this principle to cover secondary legislation and changes to HMRC s guidance. There were also some calls for a fixed date for the Budget, or at least more advance notice. The issue of predictability of change applied equally to HMRC guidance Possible common commencement dates of 1 January, 1 April and 6 April were discussed but in general this was not seen as a major issue. Government response 2.41 The Government has decided that there is no case for taking the issue of common commencement or announcement dates out to wider consultation. Commitments elsewhere in this document will improve the way in which we communicate tax policy change and we will take a more coordinated approach to the way that tax change is announced and comes into effect so that there is a more predictable pattern to the way that change is made. The Chancellor has already announced the date of the next Budget (23 March 2011) signalling his clear intent to increase stability and predictability in the tax system and responding to the calls interested parties have made. The Government has also confirmed today that Finance Bill 2011 will be published on 31 March Proposals to promote simplicity An independent Office of Tax Simplification 2.42 The consultation document restated the Government s commitment to the establishment of an independent Office of Tax Simplification The Government s commitment to a simpler tax system was very widely welcomed by respondents, as was the establishment of the Office of Tax Simplification. 6 Available on the HMRC website: 14

19 Government response 2.44 The Office of Tax Simplification was established on 20 July The Office has been established to provide advice to the Chancellor on simplifying the UK tax system, with the objective of reducing compliance burdens on both businesses and individual taxpayers. Full details about the Office are set out in its framework document The Chancellor has asked the Office of Tax Simplification to carry out a review of all tax reliefs by Budget 2011, identifying changes that can be made to simplify the tax system. On 8 November 2010 the Office of Tax Simplification published a list of all tax reliefs and its proposed approach to the review The Office of Tax Simplification will also provide an initial report to the Chancellor by Budget 2011 that identifies areas of the tax system that cause the most day-to-day complexity and uncertainty for small businesses and recommends priority areas for simplification Some of those who responded to the consultation submitted comments on the Office s current work programme and suggestions for areas it could investigate in the future these have been passed on to the Office of Tax Simplification. Reliefs in the tax system 2.48 The consultation document stated that the Government will develop a framework for the introduction of new reliefs. There was not much comment from respondents on this proposal. Those who did discuss were generally in favour of the Government developing such a framework. Government response 2.49 The Government will draw on lessons from the Office of Tax Simplification s review of existing tax reliefs in developing a framework for new reliefs. Proposals to provide for greater scrutiny Role of Parliament 2.50 The consultation document noted the common consensus that Parliament should have a stronger and more effective role in scrutinising tax legislation. Many of those who responded to the consultation considered that there was scope for improving Parliamentary scrutiny of tax legislation. Common concerns were that there was insufficient time and technical knowledge to scrutinise tax legislation effectively Specifically, several respondents suggested that, while recognising the primacy of the House of Commons, some way could be found to better involve the House of Lords in scrutinising tax legislation. There were also concerns about the amount of scrutiny given to secondary legislation Some respondents also suggested changes to the Finance Bill process including splitting the Bill between a technical bill which could remain an annual process and a Bill for new measures which would not necessarily recur annually. 7 Available on the HM Treasury website: 8 As above. 9 As above. 15

20 Government response 2.53 As these matters are properly for Parliament to consider, at the Budget the Government invited the Treasury Committee to contribute its views on the parliamentary scrutiny of tax policy making. It has provided the Committee with a summary of representations received on the matter of Parliamentary scrutiny over the course of the consultation. The Committee has welcomed the Government's commitment to publish draft legislation at least three months in advance of introduction of the Finance Bill. It has confirmed that it intends to take a more active role in scrutinising proposals on taxation and has recently launched an inquiry into principles of tax policy. Proposals to support transparency Improving impact analysis 2.54 The consultation document stated that the Government will introduce a tailored Tax Impact Assessment, in place of the current regulatory Impact Assessment used elsewhere in Government, covering a wider range of impacts than the current approach There was broad support for making changes to the Impact Assessment for tax measures and creating a specific Tax Impact Assessment in the place of the current Government-wide Impact Assessment Some respondents reported that they do not find current Impact Assessments very useful so do not often refer to them. They raised questions over the reliability of the data and the assumptions and other factors considered There was some consensus on what respondents would like to see improved for a Tax Impact Assessment. These included: more analysis of the wider impacts a measure might have. For example, respondents suggested business growth, employment, competitiveness, behavioural consequences could all be looked at; impacts on individuals to be considered as well as impacts on business; greater clarity on how the data behind an Impact Assessment have been arrived at; and better reassurance on what issues the Government has considered. The Impact Assessment should make clear what assumptions the Government has made and allow stakeholders to test those assumptions Many of those who responded reported that they would welcome greater involvement in putting together Impact Assessments. Specifically, they would like to see the production of Impact Assessments become a more iterative process between the Government and interested parties. Government response 2.59 Following constructive engagement with interested parties, the Government is introducing a new approach to impact analysis for tax measures. This new approach seeks to: embed impact analysis in the policy development process; broaden the range of impacts explicitly assessed; support greater transparency; and encourage tax policy makers to be efficient, only preparing and publishing material that is genuinely useful to policy makers or interested parties The Government is committed to publish a more suitable product for tax measures, in place of the current regulatory Impact Assessments used elsewhere in Government. This will be 16

21 done for all tax measures, rather than just those with significant compliance costs to businesses, as is now the case The Government will publish a new product, called a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) at the point at which detailed policy design is settled. In most cases, this will be the point at which draft legislation is published for scrutiny by interested parties. This document will set out in a single place, for each measure, what the tax change is, why the Government has decided to make the change and what are the likely impacts of the change. The first of these have been published today alongside the draft clauses intended for Finance Bill The Government welcomes feedback on TIINs from interested parties. If you have comments, please In response to those who said that they would welcome greater involvement in putting together impact assessments, the Government will integrate impact analysis into the consultation process. When consulting on a tax policy measure, the Government will set out the expected impacts of that measure to allow interested parties to challenge assumptions and inform the Government s decision process. Where impacts are not known, information will be sought as part of the consultation process. Publishing more information on costing of tax policies 2.63 The consultation document stated that the Government would publish more information on tax policy costings. Alongside the Budget, the Government published a document on its policy costings. 11 These were scrutinised and certified by the interim Office for Budget Responsibility The policy costings document published alongside the Budget was widely welcomed. Some of those who responded, while welcoming the development, suggested it could be improved through providing independent estimations of costing and through greater use of dynamic modelling. Government response 2.65 Consistent with its commitment to transparency and respondents support for publishing more information about policy costings, the Government will publish this information alongside future Budgets. In October, the Government also published policy costings for measures included in the Spending Review. 12 These were scrutinised and certified by the Office for Budget Responsibility. Improving supporting documentation 2.66 In the consultation document the Government committed to improving and rationalising the wide range of supporting documents that accompany tax changes without compromising the level of information provided to interested parties. The document stated that in doing so it will look at approaches taken in other countries, including New Zealand, Australia and the USA Respondents commented that they generally found the supporting documents to be useful; in particular the Budget Notes published at Budget. The suggestion most frequently made in connection with supporting documentation was that it should include a clear explanation of the policy rationale for the tax change being proposed Several of those who responded to the consultation suggested that the HM Treasury and HMRC could improve the way in which supporting documents are published and promoted. 10 Overview of draft legislation for Finance Bill 2011, HM Treasury and HMRC, December Policy costings methodology, HM Treasury and HMRC, June Spending Review 201 policy costings, HM treasury, Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC, October

22 Some suggested improvements to each department s websites to make the documents easier to find and use, particularly by collating all the information in one place on Budget day. Government response 2.69 As set out in paragraph 2.62 above, the Government will publish Tax Information and Impact Notes when draft legislation is published. This will group together the information that was previously held in Budget Notes together with the Government s assessment of likely impacts, and will specifically include a section on the policy objective for the measure. In most cases, the Tax Information and Impact Note will also be published alongside the relevant draft legislation and explanatory note, making it easier for interested parties to obtain all the relevant material from a single source These documents have been published alongside the draft Finance Bill clauses published today. 13 Any feedback regarding this change in approach would be welcomed. If you have comments, please Changes have also been made to the websites of both HM Treasury and HMRC. Both sites now include a dedicated area for updates published on measures announced since the June Budget, ensuring that whichever site is visited these announcements are available in a single location. Evaluating tax policy 2.72 The consultation document said that in its aim to embed the process of evaluation within tax policy making, the Government would consider greater use of sunset clauses or a trigger for an evaluation in legislation. The purpose of these would be to ensure that evaluation is conducted in a transparent manner, and where appropriate, policies or reliefs that are not meeting the original objective are reviewed Those responding to the consultation document were wholly supportive of the emphasis that the Government is placing on tax policy evaluation. Some called for findings from evaluations to be shared publicly to demonstrate whether the policy is meeting its intended objectives. Those who responded consider evaluation to be worthwhile in two ways: the first is that where policies are not delivering on their intended objectives, an evaluation would help in pinpointing and correcting unintended consequences of policy. The second is in equipping the government to make informed decisions when it comes to developing new tax policy Some respondents suggested that post-implementation reviews were most important where legislative changes have been introduced without sufficient time to consult with interested parties prior to implementation. More generally those who responded to the consultation welcomed the idea of being able to contribute to policy evaluations Responses to the proposal for sunset clauses were mixed. Some of those who responded were wholly positive; one citing the current economic circumstances as a pretext for temporary policy. Another suggested that sunset clauses would be useful in identifying which tax policies are temporary and which policies are permanent. Many respondents were in favour of the principle of committing to target dates for post-implementation policy reviews and the automatic triggering of policy reviews, though they cited as a concern the uncertainty that sunset clauses would introduce in the tax system Few suggestions were given as to the time frame for evaluation post-implementation, though one respondent suggested that evaluation should take place within a few months of a 13 Available on the HM Treasury website: 18

23 legislative change. One respondent said that to counter the uncertainty that sunset clauses would create the Government would need to have firm commitments on publication of evaluations of policies to back up the use of sunset clauses. Government response 2.77 In light of the mixed response to the proposed use of sunset clauses, the Government considers that the case has not yet been made for their regular use in relation to tax policy. It will consider the appropriateness of a sunset clause, or alternative trigger for formal evaluation, in a case by case basis. This may be something that the Government will explore during consultation on individual tax policies HMRC s Compliance Cost Review (CCR) programme monitors the compliance costs of tax policy changes. The Government has decided to close the CCR programme. Monitoring and evaluation work should cover a wider range of impacts than focussing on compliance costs To help ensure the transparency of tax policy evaluation, the new Tax Information and Impact Notes will set out how the Government plans to monitor the effectiveness of individual tax policies. Other points raised HMRC and HM Treasury 2.80 In addition to the topics for discussion suggested by the consultation document a number of respondents discussed the roles of HM Treasury and HMRC Some respondents considered that greater clarity on the respective roles of the two departments in the tax policy making process it would lead to better tax policy making. Some of those who responded to the consultation also discussed the levels of staff turnover and the levels of expertise amongst officials particularly when dealing with complex, technical areas of tax. Government response 2.82 It is always valuable to get an external perspective on how the policy partnership, and tax policy making more generally, is perceived to be working. Both HM Treasury and HMRC are committed to improving confidence in and the credibility of tax policy making in the UK. This commitment was reflected in the discussion document on tax policy making that was published alongside the June Budget HM Treasury and HMRC are working closely together to help address the issues and concerns raised. A new approach to tax policy making and a strong emphasis on raising professionalism and expertise across the policy partnership is important. The Spending Review also provides an opportunity to look at how both departments can do things better. This will include being clearer about which department is leading on the development of a particular policy reform. Guidance 2.84 There was also considerable discussion of HMRC s guidance, principally around concerns that it had been used too much to do the work of legislation. Several respondents suggested the changes outlined in the discussion document should also apply to guidance, for example by consulting on changes to the guidance and improving the way they are communicated. Some of those who responded to the consultation argued communication on guidance was poor, and that they found it difficult to follow when and where changes to guidance would be announced. 19

24 Government response 2.85 The Government recognises that there is some valid concern about guidance. Not all HMRC guidance relates to developments in tax policy, but HMRC is committed to consulting on guidance, as set out in the draft Tax Consultation Framework published today. The new approach to tax policy making, particularly the increased involvement of external bodies in the development of new tax legislation, should help reduce the number of issues left that require clarification in guidance There are a number of ways in which people can keep up to date with changes in HMRC guidance, which are summarised below. HMRC continues to work to improve how changes are communicated and will use the specific feedback received on changes in guidance in that work HMRC currently offers a service which provides interested parties with notification of updates to HMRC manuals, through an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed which can be subscribed to from the HMRC internet site. 14 RSS feeds are widely used across Government and are seen by many as a useful and effective way to keep up-to-date with developments. As well as access to RSS feeds, lists of amendments and the relevant dates are also shown on the HMRC website in the Manual section of the library area Across Government there are additional facilities available, for example on the Businesslink website, where businesses can sign up to receive alerts of Government regulatory updates and alerts when informational content is updated on the site. 16 Business Link also offers a news/updates service through Twitter 14 Available on the HMRC website: 15 Available on the HMRC website: 16 Information is available on the Businesslink website: 20

25

26 HM Treasury contacts This document can be found in full on our website at: hm-treasury.gov.uk If you require this information in another language, format or have general enquiries about HM Treasury and its work, contact: Correspondence Team HM Treasury 1 Horse Guards Road London SW1A 2HQ Tel: Fax:

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