Clause 341 - Licensing authorities: requirements to give or obtain tax information

Finance No. 2 Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 18th May 2023.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause 342 stand part.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Clause 341 makes the renewal of certain licences to trade conditional on licence applicants completing tax checks in Scotland and Northern Ireland from 2 October 2023. Clause 342 makes amendments to licensing legislation in Scotland, which are consequential on clause 341

This is an extension of existing principles of conditionality that already apply to renewal applications in England and Wales for taxis and scrap metal dealer licences. The checks will confirm applicants are registered for tax and have notified HMRC of their income tax or corporation tax liability. This will make it harder for traders to operate in the hidden economy. It will also help licence holders get their tax affairs right and give honest businesses confidence that their competitors are playing by the same rules. New licence applicants will be supported and directed to HMRC’s guidance on tax obligations.

Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury)

We know that the Finance Act 2021 made provision for tax conditionality connected to the application for certain licences issued in England and Wales, namely licences to drive taxis, licences to drive and operate private-hire vehicles and licences to deal in scrap metal. We understand that clauses 341 and 342 extend the existing tax conditionality legislation to similar licences issued in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, this applies to licences to drive taxis and private-hire cars, operate a booking office, and be a metal dealer, while in Northern Ireland it applies to licences to drive taxis.

We will not be opposing these clauses, but I would be grateful to the Minister if she can explain what, if any, additional resources will be made available to HMRC to effectively implement this extension of tax conditionality legislation.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I wrote to the hon. Gentleman to set out the amounts and estimates that HMRC has given in its annual report and accounts about the collection protection in compliance yield, and this includes the compliance officers that would be put forward to help reduce the tax gap. They are changes to existing tax exemptions, reliefs and policies that HMRC is already resourced to administer, and it undertakes compliance interventions based on risk, with investigations normally covering multiple taxes and duties, as opposed to narrowly focusing on a single area of taxation. For example, we do not have a compliance team solely dedicated to investigating cases relating to the HGV levy, but if HMRC opened a tax inquiry into an HGV business, this would be one of many areas of taxation that it would look into to ensure that the business is compliant with its total tax obligations.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 341 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 342 ordered to stand part of the Bill.