OTS to review claims for tax reliefs

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) is seeking input to a review of claims and elections for various taxes and reliefs to streamline the application process

The OTS has considered certain claims or elections in the context of previous reports, but this will be the first time that the body looks at claims and elections issues more widely, on a standalone basis.

They said claims and elections are a long-standing feature of many UK taxes. In some cases it is unclear why there is a need to make a specific or separate claim or election in order to benefit from a relief or exemption, and this can lead to some people missing out.

There are also concerns around the prevalence of high-volume repayment agents who will claim certain reliefs and exemptions on behalf of those that are eligible, for a fee.

Individuals may use these agents for a number of different reasons, but the OTS says this practice may suggest that what are intended to be simple reliefs that apply to lots of people could, in practice or in perception, be more complicated to deal with than people are able or willing to handle.

The review will seek to establish the broad numbers and types of claims and elections across the main UK taxes, and then focus on a range of the claims and elections that are more significant or more frequently used by individuals, partnerships and companies.

The work will be primarily concerned with how the administration of these claims and elections may be simplified, but where relevant may also consider related policy issues.

As well as seeking views on a range of general questions, the call for evidence asks specifically about issues which may affect employee expenses, capital allowances, losses and VAT, and the role of high volume repayment agents, who typically specialise in making claims for specific usually low value reliefs on behalf of large numbers of individuals.

The OTS intends to publish a report on this work in autumn 2020.

The deadline for comment is 8 May.

Claims and Elections Review – call for evidence 

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