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'Transparent' Finance Bill opens for scrutiny

Government praised for commitment to consultation

Tax experts were today heartened by coalition ministers’ ‘commitment to meaningful consultation on tax issues’, following the publication of the majority of the draft clauses for Finance Bill 2011. They are now open for consultation.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) praised the Government’s aim to keep to a minimum the number of additional measures that will subsequently need to be included to the Bill, which is accompanied by notes that are intended to explain why each change is being made and who will be affected.

Today's advance publication of draft Finance Bill clauses for scrutiny is a first, and it will become a permanent feature of the tax policy cycle, the Treasury announced, promising greater predictability and transparency in changes to taxation rules.

‘We welcome the Government’s commitment to meaningful consultation on tax issues,’ said the CIOT’s president, Vincent Oratore.

‘This is further evidence of the willingness of the administration to listen to the concerns and suggestions of the tax profession and work with us to produce a more efficient tax system.'

He added: ‘For many years, the CIOT has argued that a proper consultative approach is needed in the UK to the way tax legislation is developed and enacted.

'That means consultation in stages, over a proper timescale, to allow taxpayers and advisers proper opportunity to input views, analysis and experience. The objective is simple: to develop workable tax law that imposes as few administrative burdens as possible.’

The professional body's optimism was echoed by accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, which said, 'The draft clauses have given tax specialists and businesses alike plenty to chew on and much more time to digest the meal.

'Hopefully, this will herald a rich period of consultation between business and policy-makers ahead of next year's Budget.'

The Exchequer secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, claimed the new Finance Bill, which will be published on 31 March, 'marks a substantial improvement in the way we create tax policy.

'Not only is it the shortest in recent years, it is also the most transparent. By giving people and businesses time to adjust to these tax changes… we are making tax policy significantly more accountable.'

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