UK tax update April 2023
- The headline announcement from the recent Budget was the abolition of the pensions lifetime allowance and an increase to the annual allowance. Otherwise, this was a relatively “business as usual” Budget – in the same mould as last year’s Autumn Statement, and in contrast to Kwasi Kwarteng's chaotic "mini-Budget".
- Against this backdrop of (relative) generosity towards wealthier taxpayers at the policy level, at the implementation level taxpayers and their agents are likely to come under ever greater scrutiny from HMRC, which itself is under more pressure than ever to increase its tax take.
- Another sign of HMRC’s hunger to increase the tax it collects is its adoption of “nudge” campaigns. These involve mass communications aimed at influencing readers’ behaviour. HMRC is using these in a wider variety of contexts and ways - and is doing so in a more-joined up way with other Government departments and overseas bodies.
- The Upper Tribunal recently confirmed (unsurprisingly) that a “discovery” by HMRC in respect of a taxpayer’s affairs cannot become “stale” if HMRC does not act on it. If a discovery became stale, then HMRC would no longer be able to rely on it to raise a discovery assessment. The existence of “staleness” as a concept had long been a contentious subject until the Supreme Court stated obiter in 2021 that the concept did not exist; now, the Upper Tribunal has confirmed that it is bound by the Supreme Court’s comments.
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