Treasury appeals Commissioner's ruling to Information Tribunal

The Conservatives have criticised the Treasury for being so 'secretive' over information relating to the removal of tax relief on dividends. The Treasury has appealed a ruling by the UK Information Commissioner which currently forces it to reveal detailed information about the effects on pension schemes of the removal of tax relief on dividends in 1997.

On 7 June the Information Commissioner ruled the Treasury had failed to comply with section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act, by refusing to disclose information relating to part of the abolition of Advanced Corporation Tax (ACT). The move by the government in 1997 denied pension funds the ability to claim back the amount of any tax credits received on dividends, from the Inland Revenue, now Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

In February last year, a request was made for the Treasury to disclose information on any estimates of the losses the move would cause pension schemes, what consideration had been given to the impact on pension schemes, whether a phased approach had been considered and what the long-term impact on occupational pension schemes would be.

However, the Treasury refused the request on the basis that publicising the advice given to ministers could damage future decision-making, and would damage the confidence of advisers and ministers in the confidentiality of the Budget process.

After a ten month investigation, the Information Commissioner ruled the Treasury could not be exempted from the request and gave it until 5 July to appeal to the Information Tribunal, or until 7 July to comply with the request and release the four papers in question.

On the final day of the deadline, the Treasury submitted an appeal to the Information Tribunal against the ruling, saying it is now up to the Tribunal to decide whether or not to uphold the ruling by the Commissioner.

Brown attacked for secrecy over FOI ruling (IFAonline, 7 July 2006)