Press release: Tax experts call for consultation on new Budget timetable to ensure it delivers intended benefits

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) said today’s announcement that the annual Budget will in future (and after the last Spring Budget in March 2017) be held in the Autumn is an opportunity for better tax legislation.

In his speech today, the Chancellor said that moving the Budget to the Autumn from 2017 and moving to a single annual fiscal event will ‘allow for greater Parliamentary scrutiny of Budget measures ahead of their implementation’.

Yvette Nunn, Co-chair of ATT’s Technical Steering Group said:    

“The Chancellor’s view could make a lot of sense. At present, we have the situation that a Budget Speech in March is followed by the publication of the Finance Bill in the same month with Royal Assent to the Finance Act usually happening in July. But if the Bill is introducing a change that has effect from April of the same year, it means that there is a three-month period when the law is uncertain. It also reduces the chance of any significant change being made to the Bill even if it is clear that a provision may not work quite as intended.

“To get the most of the change, it will be essential for the whole timetable for new legislation to be considered.”

At present, much of the legislation that gets into a Finance Bill starts with a HMRC or Treasury consultation in the summer of the previous year. The responses to the consultation from businesses, individuals and bodies such as the ATT help the Government to formulate policy. A discussion draft of the proposed legislation is then often published just after the Autumn Statement in early December. That provides a period of just under two months for commentary on the draft clauses before they form part of the Finance Bill.

Yvette Nunn said:

“After the Bill’s publication, the Finance Bill Committee can receive evidence from the public but there is currently very little real opportunity for the committee to give detailed consideration to points that are raised because of Parliamentary time pressures.

“So what we are looking for is a timetable that gives adequate time for each step – the initial public consultation, reflection on proposed draft legislation  before it is included in a Finance Bill and effective scrutiny by the Finance Bill Committee.

“We think that there is a real opportunity here but only if it is fully thought through. Unsurprisingly, we think that the whole timetable needs to be the subject of consultation.”

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