Tax: Your Institute needs your help
At the start of this new decade, Donald Drysdale recaps on the tax policy positions set out by ICAS, and reminds readers of opportunities to become more closely involved with the ICAS tax team.
Tax policy positions
Writing for those interested in tax, it would be a sad omission not to recap early in this new decade on the tax policy positions set out by ICAS.
ICAS is apolitical in its views, and has a public interest remit – a duty to act not only for its members but for the wider public good. Its technical experts work in a positive and constructive manner to advise policy makers on legislation and to raise issues of importance to ICAS members, individual taxpayers and business alike.
Taxation is one such area of importance, and ICAS contributes to tax policy in Scotland, the UK and beyond. It sees flaws in the UK tax regimes, which are overly-complex, obfuscated, and perceived as unfair, and its policies are aimed at addressing these issues.
The ICAS Tax Board’s work focuses particularly on tax administration (including Making Tax Digital), devolution of taxes, and simplification of tax law and policy. It has a number of agreed policy positions, which are reviewed and updated from time to time.
Those policy positions are far-reaching and also inform ICAS’ contributions to consultations and proactive work, spearheaded by ICAS Tax Director Charlotte Barbour and her tax team and influenced to a large extent by volunteers from among the ICAS membership.
Tax Board and Committees
The ICAS Council has delegated authority in relation to the ‘policy leadership’ activities of ICAS to the Policy Leadership Board, which in turn has delegated authority to the Tax Board in relation to taxation.
This gives the Tax Board a clear remit to set ICAS policy positions, to act on behalf of ICAS in relation to all tax matters, and to have primary responsibility for managing the Institute’s relationships with the UK revenue authorities.
In adopting and actively pursuing its policy positions, the Tax Board seeks to ensure that ICAS and its members are highly regarded in relation to UK taxes by all stakeholders – members, fellow professionals, employers, government, revenue authorities and the public.
The Board strives to show members what ICAS has achieved in tax – creating more informed comment regarding tax among the press and the public, a wider public understanding of tax among taxpayers currently unrepresented, and a public perception of fairness in our tax system to encourage compliance at all levels.
The Tax Board has oversight of five Committees, each of which has responsibility for a certain area of tax. These Committees currently cover the following branches of tax:
- Indirect taxes
- International and large business tax
- Owner managed business tax
- Private client taxes
- Scottish taxes
The Tax Board and Tax Committees each tend to meet separately around three times a year to consider tax issues within their respective areas of responsibility, and to undertake or sponsor related projects from time to time.
Maintaining constructive dialogue with key contacts at the relevant tax authorities, generally with some public visibility but sometimes (where appropriate) behind closed doors, is a vital part of their activities.
Serving on the ICAS Tax Board or as a member of one of its Tax Committees can be a valuable and rewarding experience at any stage in a member’s career. Where pertinent, non-members with relevant expertise may also be invited to serve.
Volunteers from among Tax Committee or Tax Board members may be invited from time to time to represent ICAS at meetings with officials from HM Treasury, HMRC and Revenue Scotland, and with representatives from other outside bodies.
Involvement in leading-edge discussions with government representatives, sometimes in highly confidential circumstances, can provide advance insight into tax policy changes being considered and opportunities to influence eventual outcomes.
Tax Committee decisions are reached collectively. Wide-ranging discussions among Tax Committee or Tax Board members of varying ages and experience can be excellent networking opportunities, as well as valuable training and development experiences.
Practising firms, or other businesses employing CAs on tax work, can encourage their up-and-coming staff (particularly younger ICAS members) to serve the Institute risk-free – giving those individuals unique scope to broaden their knowledge and experience in the tax profession.
Although headquartered in Edinburgh, ICAS has a wide sphere of influence here and abroad and wants to involve volunteers from across the UK – and in some cases even further afield. For convenience, participation at meetings can be by telephone or video conferencing.
We live in uncertain times. Following the Conservative’s landslide victory in the recent general election, 2020 may prove to be a momentous year for changes to UK-wide, devolved and cross-border taxes.
While Britain may leave the EU by 31 January, repercussions of Brexit may drag on interminably. In the meantime, following ambitious election manifesto pledges, postponed UK and Scottish Budgets are likely to bring interesting tax developments this spring.
SNP hopes of making Scottish income tax ever more progressive may be hampered by the Westminster government slashing income tax for the rest of the UK – perhaps encouraging, perhaps frustrating, demands for another referendum on Scottish independence.
Taking the plunge
To help ICAS influence the big tax issues which inevitably lie ahead in this new decade and beyond, why not contribute your views on tax topics so that these can be taken into account in submissions to the relevant authorities?
Even better, just think how much more you and ICAS could benefit if you were to volunteer – or encourage one of your partners or staff to volunteer – to join the ICAS Tax Board or any of the ICAS Tax Committees.
You can contact the ICAS tax team on email@example.com.
Article supplied by Taxing Words Ltd