Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A wild and wiki approach to developing tax law

Each year the Chancellor announces tax changes in the Budget and the legislation then appears in the Finance Bill. If there is time this is then amended to correct errors, oversights and revisions to reflect feedback from interested parties.

Sometimes draft legislation is exposed for consultation beforehand but this is very much the exception rather than the rule. This year the Finance Bill appears to have been drafted in such a rush that I'm told that some of the clauses are being corrected even without being flagged in committee (principally erroneous cross refs to section numbers in other legislation)**

Few of those who have an interest in following the progress of the Bill and of the various amendments that are tabled, withdrawn, revised or accepted, are able to do so. Indeed one wonders whether further errors will slip through due to the inability of anyone outside of Parliamentary draughtsman's office to keep track.

So here's a novel idea. Could the Finance Bill be published as a wiki? Access to the updating facility would be limited to Parliamentary draughtsman, however all commentators and interested parties would be permitted to read the Bill and to see how amendments will affect the legislation to which they refer.

I can see further applications to extend this concept. What do readers of this blog think please?

** Keith Gordon advises me that the most obvious examples are in Schedule 14 and Schedule 57 of the current Finance Bill

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