Weekly tax brief | 3 August 2021

Governments must accelerate carbon taxes as the pace of climate change increases
George Bull
It’s now more than 25 years since some of the world’s governments, faced with the threat of climate change, began to contemplate a shift from money-based taxes to carbon-based taxes as a means of combating global warming. Progress has been lamentably slow. With heatwaves, fires and floods now concentrating the minds of legislators, rapid changes are required. Even implementing the tax part of a global solution will be painfully difficult, and that’s before politics get in the way.

IR35 and the failings of HMRC’s Check Employment Status Tool
Jackie Hall
Recent reports on the failure of the Department for Work and Pensions to correctly assess the employment status of its contractors have highlighted the difficulties involved in ensuring compliance with the off-payroll working rules. They also serve as a worrying reminder of the inadequacies of HMRC’s software tool. If the DWP and Civil Service can’t get it right, what hope is there for taxpayers with fewer resources?

Is it reasonable not to have a tax agent?
Justin Stevenson
We are seeing worrying signs that, increasingly, HMRC appear to take the view that those who have decided not to appoint an agent and yet make a mistake have been careless. That cannot be right. Earlier this year, HMRC began a “charm offensive” to repair damage done to relations with taxpayers by the adoption of an excessively combative approach. Recognising that innocent errors can happen would be a healthy step forward in that initiative.