Mark McLaughlin, editor of TaxationWeb has argued in the editorial of his latest newsletter that:
Personally, I have always been a supporter of pre-transaction clearance procedures, such as those in respect of the purchase of own shares for Capital Gains Tax purposes. HMRC will no doubt point to a lack of resources as the main reason for not introducing clearance procedures for the more 'difficult' areas of tax. However, if the Government and HMRC are going to persist along the present line of shorter, broad legislative drafting, clearance procedures are surely the price that must be paid.
Mark is right. And the problem is simply solved. Taxpayers must pay HMRC for the clearance. That's fair. They get the benefit. And for those who want certainty it's appropriate. After all, they pay enormous fees to tax advisers for uncertainty now. Why not divert that to HMRC, secure a benefit and let HMRC employ first rate people on first rate salaries (the latter being the change) to do this?