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Budget 2021: Administration and other matters

Interest and penalty harmonization

A new harmonised penalty regime will be rolled out for VAT and income tax for late filing of returns or late payment of amounts due. This was first proposed back in 2018/19. There have been several consultations since, and a new regime will be introduced from 1 April 2022. The new regime will apply for VAT first, and then for traders or landlords within income tax self-assessment (with income in excess of £10,000 a year) from 6 April 2023 for, then for all income tax self-assessment taxpayers the following year.

The new regime aims to align the treatment of taxpayers across the spectrum of taxes for similar behaviours.

The new late submission regime will be points-based, and a financial penalty of £200 issued for every missed submission on and after relevant points threshold is reached.

The new late payment regime will introduce penalties which are proportionate to the amount of tax owed and how late payment is, with no penalty chargeable on tax paid up to 15 days after the due date, a 2% penalty chargeable on tax paid between 16 and 30 days after the due date, which increases to 4% penalty chargeable on tax unpaid after 30 days, with a further 4% annualised penalty rate chargeable on outstanding tax due after 30 days.

This will signal the end of the VAT default surcharge regime. Interest relating to VAT under and overpayments will be aligned with the other taxes.

Promoters of tax avoidance

Following a consultation, there will be further measures to enable action against promoters/ marketers of tax avoidance schemes to help strengthen public finances as the UK recovers economically from Covid-19. Finance Bill 2021 will contain measures that will:

  • strengthen information powers for HMRC's existing regime to tackle enablers of tax avoidance schemes and ensure enabler penalties are issued sooner for multi-user schemes;

  • enable HMRC to act promptly where promoters fail to disclose their avoidance schemes under the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Scheme and Disclosure of VAT and other Indirect Taxes (DOTAS and DASVOIT) regimes;

  • allow HMRC to stop promoters from marketing and selling avoidance schemes earlier and ensure promoters fulfil their obligations under the Promoters of Tax Avoidance Schemes (POTAS) regime;

  • make further technical amendments to the POTAS regime, so the regime can continue to operate effectively;

  • make additional changes to the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) so it can be used as intended to tackle avoidance using partnerships.

These measures will take effect from the date of Royal Assent.

Follower notices and penalties

The rate of penalty applied to recipients of a follower notice who do not subsequently amend their returns, or otherwise take corrective action, will be reduced from 50% to 30%. However, a new penalty of 20% will be introduced that will apply if a tribunal later decides that the recipient continued their litigation on an "unreasonable" basis.

Tax conditionality

From 4 April 2022 (in England and Wales), the renewal of certain licences will be conditional on the applicants passing checks to show that they are registered for tax. This will affect:

  • taxi drivers;

  • private hire vehicle firms; and

  • scrap metal dealers.

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