Clause 8

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:45 pm ar 19 Hydref 2010.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury) 5:45, 19 Hydref 2010

I beg to move amendment 5, in clause 8, page 9, line 31, at end add—

The amendment moves us on to a slightly different, and perhaps more accessible, part of the regime operated by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. In clause 8, Members will see a series of simple powers to allow HMRC to create an online version of a form that taxpayers fill in to report tax deducted on interest, perhaps from deposits or from savings accounts. That is an entirely reasonable and worthwhile change, and I am surprised that primary legislation is required simply to allow the production of an online version of a form that, I gather, currently requires a convoluted paper-based application and then 14 days for a form to be returned for completion.

In the general sense, therefore, we believe that the new online return of income tax deducted form—CT61—is a good improvement, and will certainly ensure better compliance with tax law. We very much welcome the provision, particularly given that it will be made through the affirmative procedure in the regulation that is introduced. That is always something that I would welcome on this side of the Committee—[Interruption.] I am sure that the sedentary intervention by my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn could not be recorded, and I did not hear what he said.

The amendment simply seeks to add, at the end of the proposed new subsection, the requirement that the regulation under the proposed new section also improve

“accessibility and convenience for the taxpayer.”

The amendment is necessary because the simple act of placing a tax form online often does not necessarily do much for its intelligibility or accessibility. I am sure that if members of the Committee have ever endeavoured to fill in their own self-assessment tax forms, or had dealings with HMRC in a personal capacity or on behalf of their constituents, they will have metaphorically torn their hair out at the complexity. Filling in the forms can sometimes feel like wading through treacle.

On this side of the Committee, we believe that far greater efforts need to be made to improve convenience and accessibility for taxpayers, not only because that is the right thing to do, given that taxpayers are residents in our constituencies, but because it is in the self-interest of the Treasury. The more compliance and the greater the understanding of the rules, the more likely it is that people will pay accurate taxes.