Positive Action Group - Possan Jantys Jarrooagh

Open, accountable government, rigorous control of public finances, and a fairer society for all.

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Government Finance


Tax Talk: 2. Taxation Legislation - Temporary Taxation Orders (TTOs)

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taxnoteI sincerely hope that Members of Tynwald will shortly adopt a New Year's Resolution to the effect that they 'resolve to cease the introduction of major changes to the Income Tax Acts by means of Temporary Taxation Orders.' 

The introduction, amendment or repeal of provisions relating to income tax in the Isle of Man are generally accepted as being matters for primary legislation. The enactment of primary legislation is, of course, usually the subject of an elaborate and rigorous process involving the drafting, printing and publication of a Bill, followed by three readings, including a detailed examination of clauses, in the House of Keys, the same in the Legislative Council, signature by Members of Tynwald and finally the grant of Royal Assent. The wording of primary legislation should be clear and unambiguous. It should not be open to interpretation and reinterpretation to suit the whims of the bureaucracy which operates it.
 
 
However, while income tax continues to be generally accepted as being a matter for primary legislation in the Island, the usual processes leading to its introduction, amendment or repeal are now easily circumvented by means of Temporary Taxation Orders. Such an Order is likely to be drafted behind closed doors in the Treasury and, in all probability, reviewed by the Attorney General. The Order is then presented to Tynwald for approval. (The Members of Tynwald may have already been briefed in private by interested parties). The Order cannot be amended. Members are simply invited to vote for it or against it, If, as expected, the Members vote for the Order, its provisions become a part of the primary law.
 

Tax Talk: 1. Company Taxation

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In the past PAG has published various articles about the taxation regime in the Isle of Man. We continue this with a couple of more contributions.
 
The first, below, questions the impact of the zero rate of company tax on IOM residents and on the General Revenue Account of the IOM Government.
 
Later, the second will question the quality of some of the enabling IOM legislation.

1. IS IoM COMPANY TAX FAIR?

 

Learning from Mistakes: Black Box thinking

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Observe-Interpret-Intervene-CycleSince becoming Chief Minister, Allan Bell has regularly stated that government must be prepared to take risks. This sentiment has also been supported by Minister for Policy and Reform, John Shimmin and DED Minister, Laurence Skelly. In preparing the ground for the adoption of a £50 million Economic Development package, all three warned that there could well be some failures within the various projects supported under the scheme.

The converse of this argument is for those in power also need to recognise when they have goofed and what's more to learn from the experience. 

Times columnist Mathew Syed succinctly makes the case for a positive attitude to failure in the "Soap Box" feature on BBC 2's Daily Politicson 28.10.15:

 

Public Sector Pensions (Part Two) - The Way Forward

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The History –The Government Unified Scheme (GUS) was introduced in 2012, following lengthy negotiation with staff.  It simplified the administration of some 15 different public sector pension schemes and increased some employee contributions, but made no substantial difference to their affordability or sustainability, nor indeed their fairness to taxpayers and the private sector. It followed tortuous negotiations with the unions and their members (and at a cost of well over £1 million, paid to the consultants Hymans Robertson). Shortly afterwards, it was proclaimed by government spin as a major success story, quite forgetting both the financial implications and that it constituted a desperately sad situation of "pensions apartheid" - dividing the public sector (where 90% of workers have a salary linked pension heavily subsidised by the taxpayer) against the private sector where less than 50% now apparently have any form of pension scheme applicable at all.

 

Public Sector Pensions– A Review (Part One)

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pensionsThe Problems - Put in its simplest form, the problems with public sector pension schemes are two-fold – their funding arrangements and increasing life expectancy.

  1. The schemes, with defined benefits relating essentially to salary and years of service, have origins dating back to the 1920’s and 1930’s – when life expectancy of approx 60 years was considerably shorter than today’s expectation of perhaps 85 years, and thus pensions – if paid at all - were paid for relatively short periods following retirement. 

  2. As a result, staff pension contributions of typically 5% of pay, and matched by the employer, were historically sufficient to fund the liabilities of these schemes. However, because life expectancy has increased so significantly and so rapidly in the past 2-3 decades (with resultant increases in long-term pension payouts) but with funding arrangements (via employee and employer contributions) having remained unchanged, these schemes are today proving to be too generous, and requiring massive additional “top-ups” from the taxpayer.  They are thus unsustainable.

 
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