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Tax experts welcome promise of more early policy consultations

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed a government promise to hold more early-stage policy consultations and to reintroduce the online tax consultation tracker.


The commitments are made in a policy paper published by the Treasury entitled The new Budget timetable and the tax policy making process. The paper also confirms what the new consultation process around a single fiscal event (the Autumn Budget) will look like.


CIOT tax policy director, John Cullinane, said: “This is a very helpful document which sets down in writing the government’s commitment to further improvements to the process for making tax policy.


“In particular we welcome the commitment ‘to consult more frequently from an earlier stage of policy development’. More early-stage consultation was a central recommendation of the Better Budgets report, published in January 2017 by CIOT, the Institute for Government and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.


“A regularly updated tax consultation tracker is something else we have been making the case for, both in Better Budgets and in ongoing discussions with Treasury and HMRC officials. We are pleased that the government has confirmed their intention to re-introduce such a tracker, and we look forward to the promised further details before the end of 2017.


“The government’s recommitment to just one fiscal event a year – with the ‘Spring Statement’ having a more limited role – is welcome. The move to a single fiscal event is something the CIOT and our Better Budgets partners had argued for. We believed that it would enable more time to be spent on consultation and scrutiny and would reduce the strain that two big fiscal events a year put on government and consultees alike.”


However, CIOT has identified areas where the government could go further. Cullinane added: “Parliamentary scrutiny of tax legislation still has a lot of scope for improvement. In particular we believe oral evidence sessions before Finance Bill public bill committee, bringing in both expert witnesses and representatives from groups affected by particular changes, could lead to better-informed policy-making. This has cross-party support in parliament yet the government seems reluctant to allow it.


“Also, the consultation process should not end with the passage of legislation. There is room for more effective and systematic post-implementation reviews to determine whether measures are achieving the objectives set out for them.”

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