I turn to the specifics of clause 78. The Financial Secretary’s speech seemed to me to address some of the concerns expressed by businesses and chartered tax advisers, but I will raise them for the sake of clarity. Writing in Taxation, Angela Lang-Horgan, a German and British chartered tax adviser and lawyer, said:
“If businesses have continued to operate under the old simplification rule after
Could I get some clarity from the Financial Secretary on those points? Will HMRC provide a soft landing period for the implementation of the new rules, or is a soft landing period not even necessary? If I understood him correctly—I may have misunderstood, in which case he will clarify—it seems that there is a degree of flexibility and choice on the part of businesses over whether to adopt this approach. Some clarity in direct response to the concern expressed by Angela Lang-Horgan would be welcome.
What efforts have the UK Government made to communicate with affected businesses in anticipation of the rules, which are effectively already in place? It is worth saying, although it is a mild digression from clause 78, that concern has been expressed—particularly by colleagues in the shadow Business team—that the Government are not communicating with businesses in a timely way with respect to changes in Government policy and their impact on businesses. I think that for some time there has been a cultural problem in government of not giving businesses long enough to anticipate and adjust to new rules; I wonder whether in this case that communication has been a bit more proactive.
The explanatory notes state that
“businesses could structure transactions to remain outside the scope of the new rules if businesses found them onerous.”
What proportion of businesses are expected to exercise that discretionary power?