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Brexit Donations: Finance Act 2018 - The song remains the same

Having now reviewed and digested the headline changes in the Finance Act 2018 (which was given Royal Assent on 15 March 2018), my thoughts returned to the furore created by Jacob Rees Mogg (‘JRM’) and chums in January around the taxability of donations made by individuals to the “Vote Leave” campaign (see my blog posts dated 24 December 2017 and 21 January 2018).

The amendment suggested by JRM, Iain Duncan Smith (‘IDS’) and a handful of other MPs would have allowed for individuals who had donated significant funds to either Brexit referendum campaign to retrospectively receive an exemption from tax for their donations. JRM was particularly vociferous in the Commons ( and was quoted in the press on the ‘deeply unfair’ nature of this tax. It appeared to be a matter very close to his heart.

However, the amendment is conspicuous by its absence from FA 2018. So, what happened? I have trawled through the various committee stages and readings of the Finance Bill, as well as Hansard to see if the suggested amendment was debated, but to my surprise the amendment, as far as I can see, was not discussed in the chamber at all (see the report stage proceedings dated 21 February 2018 where the amendment is marked ‘Not Selected’ - which means the Speaker did not select the amendment for debate -

After all of the posturing in the chamber and in the press about the unfairness of this tax, nothing has been heard on the point since! Neither JRM nor IDS seem to have mentioned the issue again. I find their deafening silence a tad surprising given how unfair they thought it was that wealthy donors to their campaign should pay the tax that the law required. Nevertheless, despite the noise made about the unfairness around HMRC’s enforcement of this tax, it would appear any attempt to change the law has fizzled out without a trace, like a dead fish being flung into the Thames perhaps?

It remains to be seen whether MPs take the matter up in any future Finance Bills, but for now Arron Banks had better find his cheque book (that’s six zeros after the ‘2’ Mr Banks)….

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