Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Government Business
On 23 September 2014, I launched the White Paper 'Collection and management of devolved taxes in Wales', seeking views on the Welsh Government's proposals for administering devolved taxes. The consultation closed on 15 December.
The White Paper reaffirmed my tax principles that the taxes we develop will be fair to businesses and individuals who pay them; be simple, with clear rules which seek to minimise compliance and administration costs; support growth and jobs that in turn will help tackle poverty; and, provide stability and certainty for taxpayers.
I was pleased to receive a strong response, including many contributions from professional bodies involved in tax matters and bodies representing taxpayers. Overall, there was support for the Welsh Government's position on the main issues identified in the White Paper.
A central proposal was the establishment of a Welsh Revenue Authority as a Non-Ministerial Department, which would therefore be operationally separate from Welsh Ministers and accountable to the Assembly. That received strong backing, as did the establishment of a Taxpayers’ Charter, which would set out clearly the standards of behaviour and values of the Welsh Revenue Authority and also of Welsh taxpayers.
The Welsh Revenue Authority will be legally responsible for the collection and management of devolved Welsh taxes, although it would have scope to delegate such functions and therefore we also consulted upon whether other organisations might undertake some collection and management on its behalf. Options include HMRC, local authorities and Natural Resources Wales. There was clear support for continuing discussions with providers, and I intend to announce my decision on who will collect and manage Welsh devolved taxes prior to the introduction of a Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill.
There was widespread support for the Welsh Government's suggested approach to encouraging and enabling taxpayer compliance, and working to resolve disputes swiftly when they arise, thereby minimising recourse to the courts. There was also widespread agreement that we should continue to use the existing Ministry of Justice’s First and Upper tier tribunal system for the determination of appeals in the context of devolved taxes.
A significant part of the White Paper sought views on the approach to preventing and tackling tax avoidance. The revenue raised by the devolved taxes will be used to help pay for public services across the length and breadth of Wales - it will benefit all our communities. Avoiding payment undermines those services, and is unfair and unjust. The establishment of robust arrangements to tackle this issue head-on is an absolute priority for the Welsh Government. I will expect the Welsh Revenue Authority to prioritise ensuring compliance and addressing avoidance.
I will develop a Welsh tax avoidance rule, which I will shape in the light of further consultation. This will consider the responses to the White Paper and draw on experiences elsewhere, such as the UK General Anti-Abuse Rule and the Scottish General Anti-Avoidance Rule. Importantly, it will be informed by the forthcoming consultations on the devolved Welsh taxes - the Land Transaction Tax which will replace UK Stamp Duty Land Tax, and the Landfill Disposals Tax which will succeed UK Landfill Tax. In determining our approach, it is paramount that we learn from the valuable knowledge and experience of our stakeholders.
Following the completion of the consultation on 'Collection and management of devolved taxes in Wales', the Welsh Government will now prepare to introduce a Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill, to be laid on 6 July 2015. I am exploring options for sharing the proposed legislation with the Assembly Finance Committee to support early scrutiny of this important new legislation for Wales.