Part 2 - the Welsh Revenue Authority
Sections 2-9 – Establishment, status, membership, committees and staff of the Welsh Revenue Authority
7.Section 2 establishes the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) as a corporate body with its own legal personality. The WRA will be a Crown body with the status of a non-ministerial department, as distinct from the status of a Welsh Government Sponsored Body.
8.Sections 3-7 provide for the membership of the WRA, which will comprise non-executive and executive members and consist of between eight and thirteen members. Section 3(3) ensures that the number of non-executive members always exceeds the number of executive members. Section 4 sets out the disqualifying offices that would disqualify a person from being appointed as a non-executive member of the WRA.
9.Sections 5 and 7 provide for the Welsh Ministers to appoint, re-appoint and remove non-executive members including a chairperson and deputy chairperson and to make regulations to amend the number of members. There are also provisions for the removal of the elected executive member.
10.Section 6 provides for the appointment of an elected executive member. The elected executive member will be appointed by the non-executive members, following a ballot of WRA staff conducted by the WRA.
11.Section 8 makes provision for the WRA to establish committees (which may establish sub-committees) for any purpose relating to its functions. The WRA may determine the committees’ composition and also appoint people who are not members of the WRA and remunerate them for their services, with the approval of the Welsh Ministers.
12.Section 9 provides for the appointment of a chief executive of the WRA who is responsible to the WRA for the efficient and effective running of the WRA. The Welsh Ministers will appoint the first chief executive and subsequent appointments will, with the approval of the Welsh Ministers, be made by the non-executive members of the WRA. Provision is also made for the WRA to appoint staff, who will be civil servants.
Sections 10-11 – Procedure and validity
13.Section 10 requires the WRA to make rules to regulate its own procedure and that of its committees and these must provide that a meeting of WRA will not be quorate unless a majority of the members present are non-executive members of WRA. Section 11 establishes the validity of the WRA’s proceedings or acts.
Sections 12-15 – Functions
14.Section 12 sets out the WRA’s functions, including its general function to collect and manage devolved taxes and particular functions relating to such taxes including: providing information and assistance to the Welsh Ministers and taxpayers and others; resolving complaints and disputes; and, promoting tax compliance and working to protect against tax evasion and tax avoidance. The WRA may undertake other actions which it considers necessary or expedient in connection with exercising its functions. Section 13 makes provision for the WRA to internally authorise the carrying out of its functions by WRA members, committees, sub-committees or WRA staff. Section 13(2) requires that at least one non-executive member is a member of any committee or sub-committee that is authorised to carry out WRA functions. Where WRA has authorised the carrying out of any of a function under section 13, the WRA’s ability to exercise that function and responsibility for the exercise of the function is not affected.
15.Section 14 makes provision for the WRA to delegate any of its functions to one or more bodies that have been prescribed by the Welsh Ministers in regulations.
16.A power is given to WRA to pay an organisation to which it has delegated a function and to give directions about how delegated functions are to be exercised. The WRA must publish information about any such delegations and directions given, unless it considers that to do so would prejudice the effective exercise of its functions.
17.Where a delegation is entered into the WRA will retain the ability to exercise any of the functions that it has delegated and it will retain overall responsibility for the collection and management of devolved taxes in Wales.
18.Section 15 provides that the Welsh Ministers may give directions to the WRA of a general nature with which the WRA must, in the exercise of its functions, comply. This might for example be in relation to strategic policy priorities or in relation to the exercise of delegation power by WRA under section 14. Directions given by the Welsh Ministers must be published.
Sections 16-20 - Information
19.Section 16 allows for information acquired by the WRA, or an organisation to which WRA functions have been delegated, to be used (subject to any international obligations of the UK that restricts or prohibits the use of information) within the WRA or by any organisation to whom functions have been delegated, in relation to any function of the WRA.
20.Section 17 prohibits the disclosure of protected taxpayer information (as defined at section 17(3)) by a relevant official (as defined at section 17(2)) unless it is expressly permitted. Breach of this requirement is a criminal offence under section 20. The grounds for a permitted disclosure are set out in section 18.
21.Section 19 requires that relevant officials who have access to protected taxpayer information must make a declaration acknowledging their obligation of confidentiality.
Sections 21-22 – Court proceedings and evidence
22.Section 21 empowers the WRA to institute criminal and civil proceedings in England and Wales. WRA will be able to appoint individuals to act on its behalf in magistrates’ courts proceedings in England and Wales even when they are not an authorised person within the meaning of the Legal Services Act 2007.
23.Section 22 provides an explanation of the evidential status of documents issued by or on behalf of the WRA and certain matters stated in such documents, which are to be used in legal proceedings, including that a certified copy of a document is admissible in legal proceedings to the same extent as the original document.
24.Where the WRA issues a certificate that a tax return or notification to WRA has not occurred when it should have, that certificate is evidence of the fact, unless proved otherwise.
Sections 23-25 – Money
25.Section 23 requires the Welsh Ministers to pay the WRA for undertaking tax collection and management functions. The Welsh Ministers will set the amount, times and any conditions of payment that they consider to be appropriate.
26.Section 24 provides for WRA to pay a reward to a person for a service relating to any of its functions. For example, to an informer who provides information which leads to the successful collection of undeclared tax in circumstances where a person has sought to evade or avoid paying devolved Welsh taxes.
27.Section 25 requires the WRA to pay the money it has collected (including devolved taxes, penalties and interest on sums payable to WRA) into the Welsh Consolidated Fund, but after it has deducted any disbursements (for example, the repayment of credits and interest). Any rewards paid under section 24 are not disbursements for the purposes of this section.
Section 26 – Charter of standards and values
28.The WRA must prepare, consult on, publish and lay before the National Assembly for Wales a Charter. The Charter must set out the standards of service, standards of behaviour and values WRA’s members and staff will be expected to adhere to when dealing with taxpayers and their agents, and the standards of behaviour and values the WRA expects from those it deals with. The WRA is also required to review the Charter on a 5-year cycle, revising it where appropriate and to publish the first Charter within 3-months of the section of the Act coming into force.
Section 27-28 – Corporate plan and annual report
29.Section 27 requires the WRA to prepare a corporate plan for each planning period. A planning period is defined and the first plan is to be published no later than a date prescribed by Welsh Ministers by regulations. Subsequent plans are to be submitted to Welsh Ministers thereafter at three-yearly intervals.
30.The plan must describe WRA‘s main objectives, the outcomes by which these objectives may be measured and the activities it expects to undertake during the planning period. Plans must be submitted to the Welsh Ministers for approval and approved plans must be laid before the National Assembly for Wales and published.
31.The WRA may submit a revised corporate plan at any time during the planning period for the approval of the Welsh Ministers. The Welsh Ministers may by regulations revise the 3-year planning period.
32.Section 28 requires the WRA to prepare and publish an annual report on what it has done to achieve its objectives during that financial year. The annual report must be sent to the Welsh Ministers and laid before the National Assembly for Wales. The report must in particular contain an assessment of the extent that the WRA has met the standards of service, standards of behaviours and values set out in its Charter and be made available to the Auditor General for Wales (AGW) at a similar time as the WRA’s Accounts and Tax Statement.
Sections 29-32 – Accounts and audit
33.Section 29 requires the WRA to keep full and proper accounts and prepare them at the end of each financial year. The Accounts must be prepared in accordance with any directions given by the Welsh Ministers.
34.The Welsh Ministers may direct the WRA on the information to be contained in the accounts and how it is to be presented, the methods and principles used to prepare the accounts and any other additional supporting information that should accompany the accounts.
35.Section 30 requires the WRA to prepare a Tax Statement of money received (either collected directly or by an organisation delegated to collect tax) for each financial year in accordance with directions given by the Welsh Ministers.
36.Section 31 sets out the timescales of when the accounts and Tax Statement must be presented by WRA to the AGW for audit purposes.
37.When examining the accounts and Tax Statement the AGW must be satisfied that expenditure has been incurred lawfully, money received has been expended only for intended purposes, money collected has been collected lawfully; and, any deductions of disbursements has been made in accordance with section 25(2). Within four months of receiving the accounts and Tax Statement from the WRA, the AGW must lay a certified copy of the accounts and Tax Statement and its report before the National Assembly for Wales.
38.Provision is made for the AGW under section 32 to examine the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the WRA in discharging its functions. If the AGW thinks such an examination is required, the AGW must first consult the National Assembly for Wales and take into account its views on whether an examination should be undertaken. If an examination is undertaken the AGW must publish a report of the results as soon as is reasonably practicable and lay a copy before the National Assembly for Wales.
Section 33 – Accounting officer
39.The Chief Executive of the WRA is also the WRA’s accounting officer. The accounting officer responsibilities will be specified by the Welsh Ministers, but the section provides examples of what those responsibilities might be, including the signing of the WRA’s accounts, ensuring the propriety and regularity of the WRA’s finances, and the responsibility for the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of how WRA resources are used. Responsibilities as accounting officer may also be owed to the National Assembly for Wales, the Welsh Ministers or a committee of the National Assembly for Wales.
Section 34 – Welsh Public Records
40.The section amends GOWA 2006 so that the records of the WRA are classed as Welsh public records.
Section 35 – Public Services Ombudsman
41.The section adds the WRA to the list of public bodies in Wales contained in the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2005 to enable the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales to have jurisdiction over WRA.
Section 36 – Auditor General for Wales
42.The section adds to the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2013 so as to provide that the AGW may charge the WRA a fee for an examination, certification or report on the WRA's Tax Statement.