The UK Government has, in its own words, published "more than 30 tax updates, consultations and documents in a move to strengthen policymaking and modernise UK tax system" as part of the tax policies and consultations update on 23 March 2021, otherwise known as Tax Day.
Indeed, a Command Paper sets out updates on more than 30 matters. When looking at the collection of documents published alongside the Command Paper, it does, however, become apparent that further information in the form of consultations, consultation responses, guidance, policy papers or further research has been published in respect of less than 25 measures, of which I wanted to highlight a few.
The Government is consulting on updates to transfer pricing documentation until 1 June 2021, including proposals to require multinationals to provide on request a copy of their transfer pricing master file to HMRC (and to keep, and produce on request, a local file) and to introduce a form of international dealing schedule which has to be filed annually to report data on cross-border transactions.
A second consultation on the notification of uncertain tax treatments by large businesses is open for comments until 1 June 2021. On the basis of the responses to the first consultation (which was covered in a post by Mike Lane), the policy has evolved. For instance, it is now proposed to define "uncertain tax treatment" by reference to the presence of one of a number of triggers. Despite removing some of the subjectivity for which the original proposal was criticised, these do still look rather onerous. One proposed trigger would be that the treatment "result[s] in...a deduction for tax purposes greater than the amount incurred by the business...unless HMRC is known to accept this treatment." For these purposes, a "known" position would include statements in the public domain or written correspondence with HMRC - and, surely, there can be no question about any super-deduction provided for by legislation...?
In relation to the business rates review, it seems that we will have to wait until the final report (which is due in the autumn) to find out more about the Government's long-term policy direction. The interim report merely refers to policy decisions made in respect of COVID-19-related relief measures and summarises responses. Whilst respondents tended to criticise the business rates features on which views had been sought, they also indicated limited enthusiasm for a wholesale replacement of the business rates system with an alternative, such as a capital values tax. Responses on questions around an online sales tax also seem rather mixed.
The consultation on the tax administration framework forms part of the Government's 10-year strategy to build a trusted, modern tax administration system. It looks at HMRC's structure as a whole, for instance, by inviting views on whether the Government has correctly identified the objectives that a tax administration framework should achieve, and at constituent elements, for instance, by asking respondents to identify the key issues presented by current legislative provisions on the identification and registration of taxpayers or the provision and use of data and information. It is open for comments until 13 July 2021.