Following discussions with the Opposition, the government are to remove a majority of the Finance Bill clauses and schedules but, unfortunately, the wretched off-payroll rules is not one of those.
At 762 pages, the current Finance Bill is the longest on record and would have taken up to two days of House of Commons debate, 14-20 standing committee sessions, two days of report stage and a third reading debate. As a consequence of the surprise snap election being announced for 8th June, however, the timetable for Finance Bill 2017 reporting is shortened and it is likely that the committee and reports stage would have been condensed into a single day. It therefore makes sense for the government to remove the more controversial and complex provisions so that Parliament can examine these once it resumes after the election, and retain only those clauses essential to maintaining the raising of revenue which include:
Some of those clauses temporarily dropped include those on Making Tax Digital, dividend nil rate for 2018/19, corporate loss relief and interest deductibility, and penalties for enablers of defeated tax avoidance schemes.
Whilst Making Tax Digital is unlikely to be a headline issue during the election campaign it will be interesting to see if any of the parties make political store out of it. For instance, Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed that, if elected, Labour would exempt businesses below the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) from digital record-keeping and quarterly reporting. Furthermore, opposition parties could force the government to abandon Making Tax Digital enabling clauses in the run up to Parliament being dissolved on 3rd May.
The likelihood is that either all or at least the majority of those provisions removed will return in a Bill after the election but unless something radical happens, the off-payroll rules will not be up for debate.