Schedule 47

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 23rd June 2009.

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Amendment of information and inspection powers

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I beg to move amendment 66, in schedule 47, page 345, line 35, leave out sub-paragraph (5).

I have only a very brief point to make. Concern was raised with us that new paragraph 21(9) in schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008, inserted by schedule 47 to the Bill, is somewhat vague and adds nothing to the law. It states:

“In this paragraph, references to the person who made the return are only to that person in the capacity in which the return was made.”

Will the Minister explain what the wording is designed to do?

Photo of Ian Pearson Ian Pearson Economic Secretary, HM Treasury

The amendment would remove paragraph 9(5) of schedule 47, which inserts a new sub-paragraph in paragraph 21 of schedule 36 to the 2008 Act. Paragraph 21 provided specific rules on how the information powers could be used in cases in which a self-assessment return had been submitted. The new sub-paragraph clarifies that the specific rules apply only in relation to checking the person’s tax position in the capacity in which the tax return was made.

The provision is needed as there are people who are responsible for making returns in more than just their own personal capacity—an example is a trustee who has filed a trust return, but has not filed their own personal return. As a result of the new sub-paragraph that the amendment seeks to remove, the legislation would not prevent HMRC from issuing a taxpayer information notice in relation to the individual’s personal tax position. It would be wrong to leave the legislation so that the way in which one return could be treated was affected by the filing of another, unrelated, return. Without that provision, the legislation in schedule 36 would not work as originally intended and would remain unclear. The provision is concise, clear and helpful and should not be omitted.

It might help the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire and those who follow these proceedings closely if I explain that we are concerned only about cases where someone is required to make more than one tax return in different capacities. For example, the situation of an agent who submits tax returns for several clients would not be affected by the provision. I hope that is helpful, given the probing nature of the hon. Gentleman’s amendment, in explaining why we need the power.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I am grateful to the Minister for that response and beg to ask leave to withdraw amendment 66.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Ian Pearson Ian Pearson Economic Secretary, HM Treasury

I beg to move amendment 306, in schedule 47, page 348, line 11, leave out from ‘person’ to ‘the’ in line 13 and insert ‘if—

(a) it appears to an officer of Revenue and Customs that a counteraction provision may apply to the person by reason of one or more transactions, and

(b) ’.

The amendment is purely technical and corrects a drafting error in paragraph 12 of schedule 47. I could speak to it in more detail if hon. Members have questions but, in the light of its technical nature, I do not feel compelled to do so.

Amendment 306 agreed to.

Schedule 47, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 95 ordered to stand part of the Bill.