US tax reform: badly needed, but is the destination right?

Back in 1988, the economist Larry Summers explained why the US had no VAT: ”Liberals think it’s regressive and conservatives think it’s a money machine. If they reverse their positions, the VAT may happen.” Nearly 30 years later, the US still doesn’t have a VAT. But recent tax reform proposals by the Republican party would bring … More US tax reform: badly needed, but is the destination right?

Making Tax Digital: fundamental questions remain unanswered

The government’s response to the consultation on “Making Tax Digital” – requiring businesses to keep digital records and make quarterly updates to HMRC – was published this week, together with draft legislation. But, rather like Theresa May at a press conference, the government doesn’t answer some of the big questions. Businesses, agents and rep bodies … More Making Tax Digital: fundamental questions remain unanswered

Scandal in Frankfurt: tax avoidance pays dividends for German banks

Last Thursday’s FT carried an intriguing story about a German tax avoidance scheme with €billions at stake: the so-called “cum-cum” dividend-stripping device. While we generally think of the Germans as highly disciplined, this looked like an example of complete chaos. And the aggressive artificiality of the scheme took me back to the dark ages of … More Scandal in Frankfurt: tax avoidance pays dividends for German banks

Smoke and mirrors don’t fill the deficit

Once upon a time, in a pre-Brexit, pre-Trump world, a conservative government unexpectedly won an election. One of their key priorities was to eliminate the deficit, and in the Budget immediately following the election they came up with a way to “raise” a few £billions by what amounted to an accounting trick. They decided to … More Smoke and mirrors don’t fill the deficit

Why, how and when? Some fundamental questions on HMRC’s proposals to Make Tax Digital

With the summer finally coming to an end, I made time this week to look at one more of the tax consultations issued in August: HMRC’s Bringing business tax into the digital age, part of the Making Tax Digital programme. These proposals, requiring businesses to keep records using digital tools, have generated a significant amount … More Why, how and when? Some fundamental questions on HMRC’s proposals to Make Tax Digital

Labour’s review of HMRC: evidence-based policy or shoddy sound-bites?

Soon after he was appointed shadow Chancellor last September, John McDonnell announced a “wholescale review of the tax system” and, more specifically, of HMRC. Last Thursday, almost a year later, the first-stage report of the HMRC review was published (apparently available only on Scribd). The report describes itself as commissioned by Labour and conducted independently … More Labour’s review of HMRC: evidence-based policy or shoddy sound-bites?