The 2018 Spring Statement took place on Tuesday 13 March 2018 and, as promised, did not contain any significant tax announcements. However, the Government did take the opportunity to announce a number of consultations and calls for evidence.
At his first Autumn Statement in 2016, the Chancellor announced that it would also be his last, as he was abolishing the Autumn Statement. Instead, there would be a single fiscal event each year: an Autumn Budget. Toward the end of last year, HM Treasury published a policy paper, entitled “The New Budget timetable and the tax policy making process” which provided further details of the future of how tax policy will be made in the future. One such detail was the confirmation that the Chancellor “will not make significant tax or spending announcements at the Spring Statement, unless the economic circumstances require it.” As promised, the 2018 Spring Statement (which took place on Tuesday 13 March) did not contain any significant tax announcements.
However, the Government did use the opportunity to announce a number of consultations and calls for evidence. Again, this was foreshadowed in the policy paper which states that “there will be new opportunities for the government to consult with stakeholders at earlier stages of policy making, including by launching consultations at the Spring Statement.”.
Among the documents published was a revised position paper on corporation tax and the digital economy, and a call for evidence on how the VAT threshold should operate. The Chancellor has also promised to publish further tax policy documents in the near future.
The government’s stated belief is that having a single fiscal event will help establish “a more open, considered and professional approach, particularly in relation to the consultation process”. Whether this will indeed be the case of course remains to be seen; and, in particular, whether the hope-for professionalism will survive any Government resourcing issues caused by having two (potentially overlapping) legislative cycles beginning with consultations published in both the Spring and the Autumn.