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Tuesday 1 May 2018 – 16:45

Every month AAT highlights some of the key public affairs and public policy activities undertaken on behalf of our 140,000 members. 

Below you will find some key highlights for April 2018. 

If you would like any further information about any of these issues, please contact Phil Hall, AAT Head of Public Affairs and Public Policy, on Twitter or on email.

AAT Panels on Tax, Payroll & Financial reporting

The reformed AAT Tax Panel, with 8 new members from industry, trade bodies, the media and AAT licensed members, met for the first-time last month. Topics ranging from Inheritance Tax and IR35 to the future of VAT and responsible tax were discussed.

The AAT Financial Reporting Panel also welcomed some new additions in the form of representatives from RSM and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

The AAT Payroll Panel discussed the impact of Scottish income tax, Gender Pay Gap reporting and the Apprenticeship Levy from a payroll perspective.

The Panels meet twice a year, here at AAT, and will next do so in December 2018.

If you would like any further information about these meetings then please don’t hesitate to get in touch

Parliamentary engagement

Last month we directly engaged with a dozen Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs and Peers on issues including the Office for Professional Body AML Supervision (OPBAS) SMEs, Stamp Duty, apprenticeships and Informi.

Mel Stride MP – Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The Financial Secretary has Ministerial responsibility for numerous activities of interest to AAT e.g. corporate and small business taxation and VAT as well as strategic oversight of the UK tax system including direct, indirect, business, property and personal taxation. He also oversees HMRC.

Further to AAT meetings with him in November 2017 and March 2018, we again met with Mel last month as part of a roundtable event organised by the APPG on Tax. 

AAT views on Stamp Duty, the value of accountants, and administrative burdens were made clear. A plug for AAT’s Informi web site also resulted in a Ministerial commitment to “check it out” later that day. 

Consultation responses

April was an incredibly busy month for the submission of consultation responses – record breaking in fact – with ten separate responses being submitted. 

80% of these were written in-house, another monthly record.

•    Taxation of self-funded work-related training
•    Enforcement of employment rights recommendations
•    Inquiry into Corporate Governance: Delivering on Fair Pay (1)
•    Inquiry into Corporate Governance: Delivering on Fair Pay (2)
•    Extension of Offshore Time Limits
•    VAT Registration Threshold
•    VAT Inquiry
•    Allowing Entrepreneurs’ Relief on gains made before dilution
•    Financing growth in innovative firms: Enterprise Investment Scheme knowledge-intensive fund 
•    Prompt Payment by Government Suppliers

Click here to read any of these responses and others

View these responses and others here.

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

AAT visited the department to speak to officials about AAT views on SME access to the Financial Ombudsman Service and SME access to finance as well as the topical issues of productivity and prompt payment. 

The meeting also provided an opportunity to again highlight the need to address the issue of unregulated accountants. Unregulated accountants make up one third of the sector but account for two thirds of agent related complaints to HMRC.

Gender Pay Gap reporting

AAT welcomed the new Gender Pay Gap reporting requirements which came into force this year. The new requirements are a good start, have stimulated debate and have indirectly shone much needed light on the fact most companies employ more men in senior roles than women. However, more needs to be done to ensure data is genuinely useful, put into context and presented uniformly. 

AAT recommended that all companies should aspire to having “no Gender Pay Gap” but in the same way that “full employment” does not equate to there not being a single person unemployed, having “no Gender Pay Gap” should be considered anything less than 3% either in favour of women or in favour of men to allow for the changes in staffing and pay arrangements that occur throughout the year. 

This idea has now been picked up by the 30% Club, the Fawcett Society and even Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman. It was discussed by MPs at the latest BEIS Select Committee evidence session along with AAT’s suggestion that companies should adopt a tiered approach to action – those with a gap above 50% should first aim for a gap below 50%, those with a gap above the national average of 18.4% but below 50% should first seek to reduce their gap to the national average and finally those with an average gap or less should be seeking 
no gap at all (effectively 3% either way). 

Read more here

Other events, meetings and engagement

  • Two meetings with representatives from the CBI and other CBI members provided an opportunity to express AAT views on issues relating to modern working practices and employment status
  • Attendance at a Resolution Foundation event relating to Housing Policy saw former MPC member and world-renowned economist Kate Barker express her support for AAT proposals to switch Stamp Duty liability from the buyer to the seller
  • Attending a CSFI roundtable discussion on Alternative Lending, AAT learnt that whilst there is something like $400bn invested worldwide via alternative finance, there is a further $200bn or so of “dry powder” (committed capital waiting to find a home)
  • Meeting with the Chief Executive and Policy Director of  the Learning & Work Institute enabled an exchange of views on the Apprenticeship Levy, upskilling and reskilling more generally and an agreement to share relevant work in the future given our overlapping views on many key issues
  • AAT were invited to participate in the IPSE/Demos Conference relating to the self-employed where AAT views on tax-relief for work related training were publicly acknowledged. It was also helpful to listen to the views of many different organisations on the thorny issue of employment status, currently the subject of extensive Government consultations
  • Three April encounters with Anneliese Dodds MP (Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury) have led to discussions about AAT’s concerns with OPBAS and resulted in a meeting being arranged for next month to discuss Labour Party tax policy

Source: AAT News

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