Independence and strong charter key to new Welsh Revenue Authority – says National Assembly committee
A new Welsh Revenue Authority must be independent, and must have a strong charter setting out what people can expect from it, says a National Assembly for Wales committee.
The Finance Committee has been considering the Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill which would establish a body to collect revenue from taxes devolved to Wales under the Wales Act 2014; namely landfill tax and stamp duty.
In agreeing with the general principles of the Bill, the Committee felt that the Welsh Revenue Authority's (WRA's) status as a body independent of the Welsh Government should be made clear, as it is with equivalent bodies such as Revenue Scotland and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
On the subject of the WRA charter, the Committee felt that it was important for the Charter to set out exactly what the people of Wales could expect from the WRA, and vice versa.
"Under new devolved powers, Wales is in a position to collect its own taxes for the first time in 800 years," said Jocelyn Davies AM, Chair of the Finance Committee.
"That is why we believe that a Welsh Revenue Authority that is completely independent of government; and that sets out its purpose and what people can expect from it in a clear manner, is essential to ensure that the business of managing the collection of taxes is efficient and effective from the outset."
The Committee makes 29 recommendations in its report (PDF, 990Kb), including:
- The Bill be strengthened to ensure the independence of the Welsh Revenue Authority from the Welsh Government and this should be expressly provided for on the face of the Bill;
- The Bill is amended to prevent the Welsh Government intervening in the exercise of the Welsh Revenue Authority's operational functions, and;
- The Charter must specifically refer to a quality service for the taxpayer and to its application to delegated bodies with responsibility for collection and management of taxes.
The Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill will now be debated and voted on by all Assembly Members during Plenary next month. If agreed, the Bill will proceed to the second stage of the National Assembly's law-making process.