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Published on 31 August 2018

Draft Finance Bill 2018-2019: Penalties and Interest

LITRG has submitted comments to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in respect of the draft clauses and schedules contained in Finance Bill 2018-19 that concern penalties and interest for late submission of returns and late payment of tax. We have previously responded to a number of consultations on the reform of tax penalties, welcoming the aim of trying to differentiate between deliberate and persistent non-compliers and those who make occasional innocent errors, for whom alternative interventions might be appropriate. We think that largely the regimes provided for by the draft legislation achieve this, and for the most part adhere to HMRC’s five design principles for penalties.

The LITRG response draws attention to concerns about certain provisions within the Finance Bill. One concern relates to the two-year time limit for HMRC to make assessments in respect of the late submission of returns. This is too long and runs counter to one of the aims of the new penalty regime – to encourage taxpayers who have been non-compliant to become compliant again quickly.

In addition to specific points about the legislation, we also note that there are elements of the new late payment penalty regime that introduce complexity. We recommend that taxpayer guidance should be clear and ensure the regime is transparent, setting out all rights and obligations of both HMRC and taxpayers. For instance, examples setting out potential taxpayer liabilities should include both penalties and interest. Moreover, notifications issued to taxpayers should explain how penalties and interest will be worked out, so that the levels of the second penalty and any late payment interest do not come as nasty surprises.

The LITRG's response can be found here: Draft Finance Bill 2018-2019: Penalties and Interest – LITRG response

Joanne Walker

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