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June general election disrupts Finance Bill timetable

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The Finance Bill received its second reading on 18 April 2017. The calling of a general election on 8 June 2017 will disrupt the remainder of the Finance Bill timetable. A Finance Act must be passed before Parliament is dissolved in advance of the general election, so that the government will continue to have authority to collect income and corporation tax. As in previous general election years, the government is likely to pass a shortened Finance Bill before the election, with the more technical measures being left for later in the year. Assuming that Parliament will be dissolved in early May for the general election campaign, this means that the shortened Finance Bill will need to be passed within the next week or two.
The CIOT has written to the chancellor urging him not to rush through a large number of tax changes without any real parliamentary scrutiny. In the letter, CIOT President Bill Dodwell said: ‘We recognise the need to pass a basic Finance Bill before the election, containing those measures essential to the continuation of the tax system – primarily the renewal of income tax. This could also reasonably confirm changes to levels of duties announced on Budget day, and any other measures which are required urgently, such as anti-avoidance provisions. However, we believe most other measures should be left until a post-election Finance Bill where they can be scrutinised at greater length.’
Dodwell said this was not simply about the formality of parliamentary debate. The truncated timetable would not allow for adequate consideration on areas of the Bill where concerns have been raised, such as loss relief and interest deductibility.
‘A post-election Finance Bill would also enable more of the framework for making tax digital to be put in statute, rather than brought in through regulations,’ Dodwell added.
However, James Hender, partner and head of private wealth at Saffery Champness, warned: ‘Any significant delays come with the risk of further alterations – not least if we have a new government with a vastly different view of and approach to taxation. For example, non-domiciled individuals were at long last beginning to see light at the end of what has been a long drawn out and complex tunnel as their tax status was scrutinised and amended. Now, with a conclusion in sight and affairs begun to be set in order, we have further uncertainty about the final shape of the rules and when they will actually bite.’