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Taxation in Wales

Some of you will have attended a panel debate with our CEO Michael Izza last month on taxation in Wales which attracted a wide range of opinions. Well like it or not (and I know a number of you do not like it) taxation powers are coming to Wales, a decision made by the Westminster Government and driven by David Cameron and George Osbourne.

From April next year Wales will govern and collect Landfill Tax and Land Transaction Tax (currently Property Stamp Duty) across Wales. Through myself and Frank Haskew (Head of ICAEW Tax Faculty) ICAEW have been present at the Cabinet Secretary’s Tax Advisory Group and have had some influence upon the Welsh approach.

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance announced on 3rd October the rates and bands for these taxes alongside his budget. It was good to see that he has heeded ICAEW advice to:

  • keep rates and regulations similar to the current approach to ensure minimal confusion in transition for taxpayers and
  • limit administration by removing the distinction between business and residential properties when he brought together the starting point of tax for all properties. 

It is fair to say that the Welsh Assembly have been extremely open and consultative about their approach to date and are generally constructing their legislation in as simple and clear way as is possible for taxation.

In order to manage and collect these taxes the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) has been created and I am pleased to say that ICAEW members form a third of the WRA Board with myself and Lakshmi Narain FCA appointed. Of course a lot of work has already begun but it will be an interesting challenge to set up this new organisation from a green field start whilst benefiting from the experience of the Revenue Scotland set up and, indeed, HMRC.

No doubt there will be more to say in future months but things appear to have got off to as good a start as we could have hoped. It will, of course, be even more interesting when a Welsh Government begins to vary the rates of income tax which it can from April 2019 (Collected by HMRC not WRA). The current Government has pledged to make no changes in this Assembly but that just means it will become a big election issue next time around. Watch this space.

Martin J Warren FCA
Director for Wales & The South West