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Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003


The Tax Law Rewrite Project

5.In December 1995 the Inland Revenue presented a report to Parliament on the scope for simplifying the UK tax system (The Path to Tax Simplification). The main recommendation was that UK direct tax legislation should be rewritten in clearer, simpler language.

6.This recommendation was warmly welcomed, both in Parliament and in the tax community. After further work on important practical issues and a period of preliminary consultation, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer (the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP, QC) announced in his November 1996 Budget statement that the Inland Revenue would propose detailed arrangements for a major project to rewrite direct tax legislation in plainer language.

7.The project team was given the task of rewriting almost all of the United Kingdom’s existing primary direct tax legislation. The aim is that the rewritten tax law should use simpler language and structure than legislation that it replaces. The members of the project are from different backgrounds, including Inland Revenue employees, private sector tax professionals and parliamentary counsel including (as head of the drafting team) a senior member of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.

Steering Committee

8.The work of the project is overseen by a Steering Committee, chaired by Lord Howe of Aberavon CH, QC. The membership of the Steering Committee as at February 2003 is:

  • Rt Hon the Lord Howe of Aberavon CH, QC (Chairman)

  • Ian Barlow

  • Adam Broke

  • David Hartnett

  • The Rt Hon Michael Jack MP

  • Dr John Avery Jones CBE

  • Rachel Karp

  • Professor Frank Kidd

  • James Plaskitt MP

  • The Rt Hon Lord Mustill

  • David Swaine

Consultative Committee

9.The work is also reviewed by a Consultative Committee, representing the accountancy and legal professions and the interests of taxpayers. Its members as at February 2003 were:

  • Peter Michael CBE

  • Graham Aaronson QC

Revenue Bar Association
  • Derek Brownlee

Institute of Directors
  • Adam Broke

Special Committee of Tax Consultative Bodies
  • Colin Campbell

Confederation of British Industry
  • Russell Chaplin

London Chamber of Commerce
  • Malcolm Gammie

The Law Society of England and Wales
  • Terry Hopes

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • Isobel d'Inverno

Law Society of Scotland
  • Elizabeth Lathwood

Chartered Institute of Taxation
  • Simon McKie

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • Cunnie Rankin

Institute of Chartered Accountants of  Scotland
  • Mavis Sargent

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • Simon Sweetman

Federation of Small Businesses
  • Wreford Voge

Chartered Institute of Taxation
  • Professor David Williams

Office of the Social Security Commissioners
  • Mervyn Woods

Confederation of British Industry


10.The work produced by the project has also been subject to public consultation. This has allowed all interested parties an opportunity to comment on draft clauses. This consultation has taken the form of a series of Exposure Drafts which publish clauses in draft. The relevant ones for this Act are numbers 6, 11 and 12. They were published in May 1999, January 2001 and December 2001 respectively. A draft Bill was published for further consultation in July 2002. Those who responded to one or more of those documents include:

  • Cardiff Law School, Cardiff University

  • Chartered Institute of Taxation

  • City of London Law Society

  • Confederation of British Industry

  • Construction Industry Joint Taxation Committee

  • Deloitte & Touche

  • Ernst & Young

  • Global Employment Solutions

  • Holborn Law Society

  • ideasUK

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland

  • Institute of Directors

  • Institute of Payroll and Pensions Management

  • John Jeffrey-Cook

  • KPMG

  • Law Society of England and Wales

  • London Society of Chartered Accountants

  • London Tax Study Group

  • Low Incomes Tax Reform Group

  • Mayer Brown Rowe and Maw

  • Share Scheme Lawyers Group

  • Special Committee of Tax Law Consultative Bodies

Note: this table excludes those who asked that their responses be treated in confidence.

A brief history of the taxation of employment income

11.Income tax was introduced in 1799; Schedules A to E first appeared in 1803; and the income tax legislation of the Napoleonic period was given its final shape in an Act of 1806. That Act was also drafted in terms of the five Schedules A to E. Schedule E related to every public office or employment of profit; and the general rule was that income tax was to be “detained and stopped” at the public office. The Napoleonic wars ended in 1815, and income tax was then abolished.

12.Income tax was reintroduced in 1842, in an Act agreed to have been modelled on the 1806 Act, and the five Schedules accordingly reappeared. Income tax has been in continuous existence ever since.

13.Some provisions in the income tax legislation relating to Schedule E, therefore, now have a considerable history. One of these is the central provision concerning the deductibility of expenditure, with its requirement that the expenditure should be expended “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” in the performance of the duties of the employment (see section 336 in Part 5 of this Act). For well over a century this provision also included a reference to keeping and maintaining a horse in order to enable the employee to perform the duties of the employment; and only in 1998 was this reference removed.

14.In the years following 1842 the charge to income tax under Schedule E applied only if the office or employment held or exercised was of a public nature. If it was not, income tax was charged under Schedule D (the residual Schedule). There were fewer public offices than some had thought: in Great Western Railway Co - v - Bater (1922) 8 TC 231, [1922] 2 AC 1, the House of Lords, undoing the accepted practice of decades, placed a railway clerk in Schedule D and not in Schedule E. But the charge to income tax under Schedule E was widened by section 18 of FA 1922, which provided that profits or gains arising from employments chargeable under Schedule D, “other than the profits or gains chargeable under Case V of Schedule D”, should be transferred to Schedule E. The profits or gains from some employments accordingly continued to be chargeable under Schedule D Case V; but that possibility disappeared when section 10 of FA 1956 provided that all income from employments was to be chargeable under Schedule E, and divided Schedule E into three Cases.

15.The twentieth century saw major increases in the revenue obtained from income tax, in the rates of that tax, and in the importance of income tax to central finance. It became a matter of major operational importance, therefore, (and not least during the Second World War) that employees should account for income tax on their earnings. The result was the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system. The developments leading to the introduction of that system are discussed in greater detail in the introductory explanatory notes for Part 11 of this Act; and that Part deals with the primary legislation relating to the PAYE system.

16.Since the Second World War both earnings and income tax rates have been very high by historical standards; and national insurance contributions may well make further demands on both employer and employee.

17.Against this background, it might well be worthwhile for employers and employees to try to arrange for payments and benefits to be received in a way that minimises income tax – and for the Inland Revenue to contest those arrangements. There are, accordingly, numerous cases in which the Inland Revenue has alleged, and the taxpayer has denied, that the receipt of a particular advantage was within the ambit of the Income Tax Acts. Hochstrasser - v - Mayes (1959) 38 TC 673, [1960] AC 376 is one example that may represent others. And against this same background it was also to be expected that the legislation relating to income tax charged under Schedule E would become more extensive and more complicated.

18.One legislative consequence related to the subject described in Part 3 of this Act as “the benefits code” – and dealt with in that Part. Legislation on this subject featured in FA 1948, and has been extended in other Finance Acts since – not least in FA 1976.

19.A second legislative consequence was that the charge to income tax under Schedule E was extended to receipts with characteristics specified in the legislation in question. The first, and very important, example was the legislation relating to payments and benefits received on the termination of an employment, originally enacted in FA 1960. In this Act these provisions may be found in Chapter 3 of Part 6. The provisions of that Part do not deal with earnings from an employment, charged to income tax under Schedule E by virtue of paragraph 1 of section 19(1) of ICTA 1988, but with other payments and benefits specifically charged to income tax under Schedule E by virtue of paragraph 5 of section 19(1). In this Act this income is referred to as “specific employment income”, and it is distinguished, very carefully, from “general earnings” (see section 6(1) of this Act).

20.A third legislative consequence concerned share-related income, dealt with in Part 7 of this Act. Companies might well wish to reward employees by allowing them to acquire shares on advantageous terms – including arrangements designed to minimise income tax. The income tax legislation on this matter accordingly consists in part of legislation designed to counteract schemes that have been in existence at various times, and in part of legislation designed to promote share schemes with meritorious characteristics. These matters are discussed in greater detail in the introductory explanatory notes for Part 7 of this Act. That Part is extensive. It occupies 138 sections and four Schedules with a total of 245 paragraphs (and there is further material in Schedule 6 dealing with consequential amendments). Some of this material is very recent: of the provisions just mentioned 43 of the sections and 159 of the paragraphs in the Schedules derive from legislation on topics first dealt with in FA 2000.

Employment income, pensions and social security

21.As mentioned above, employment income is taxed under Schedule E in ICTA. During the course of the work leading up to the production of this Act, it became apparent that it would be more sensible to rewrite the whole of Schedule E, rather than just picking out those parts relevant to employment income.

22.The grouping of employment income, pensions and social security income represents income within Schedule E as set out in section 19 of ICTA. Rewriting the charging provisions for these categories of income makes possible a repeal of Schedule E as a whole.

23.In order to have all the charging provisions relating to pensions in one place, Part 9 of the Act also includes some pensions within Schedule D as set out in section 18 of ICTA.

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