Employment income provided through third parties

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:45 am ar 9 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Minister (Treasury) 10:45, 9 Ionawr 2018

May I pose one brief question about clause 12 before speaking to amendments 34 to 38 to schedule 1? I am grateful to the Minister for his clarifications and comments about clause 12 and schedule 2, but a pertinent question has been asked by one of the different interlocutors—one of the taxation organisations —which suggested it might be easier for self-employed people who have used the schemes to report their use in accordance with the self-assessment deadline. Has that been considered, because there could be a helpful reduction in bureaucracy and in the amount of fees paid to accountants and so on were there an alignment with the self-assessment return deadline? Will the Minister respond to that?

Moving on to our amendments, we would obviously welcome tightening in the area of disguised remuneration schemes following widespread concern about practice. There have been some high-profile cases, not least those revealed recently in the Paradise papers or the Rangers football club case, which have shown the lengths to which some people are prepared to go to avoid paying the tax that others view as a normal part of doing business.

We are concerned that the measures in the Bill do not go far enough. Loans, for example, have been taxable since the disguised remuneration rules came into force in 2011. There should be no excuse for people not to be aware of the situation; there should be widespread understanding of the need for employers and employees to comply in the area and not to enter into such schemes. We therefore need to ensure that future penalties are sufficiently dissuasive of other forms of aggressive tax avoidance as well as this one.

The Minister rightly described some of what has gone on as involving excessively contrived steps to avoid tax. He suggested that our additional penalties might somehow be inconsistent with others delivered by HMRC but, for the reasons I have just mentioned, it is important for us to have a strong line on such issues. The consistent policy has been that there should be no disguised remuneration, in particular through loans or connections with third parties in effect—not third parties, but those presented as third parties—and we need to ensure that we dissuade people with appropriate penalties.

I further note that the projected IT cost to HMRC of delivering the measure is about £3.5 million, so it is important to ensure that such costs are covered and that HMRC does not lose out due to the creation of the new penalties, especially when it is already subject to new demands because of the possible shift to a new customs regime, as we were discussing until very late last night. For those reasons we are keen to press ahead with our amendments, despite the Minister’s suggestion that we do not press them.