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Painful progress along the road to ruin

AGENDA

CONSTRUCTION industry representatives and accountants have spent years locked in talks with the Revenue over CIS through the Construction Industry Reform Implementation Panel and its predecessors. Construction News used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain minutes of the meetings, which reveal a long and torturous road to the Revenue's latest postponement of the scheme, writes Russ Lynch.

2003: Is the Revenue listening?

February: Revenue tells industry there are 'no closed minds' over CIS and it is open to suggestion.

May: Industry tells Revenue the CIS start date ? then April 2005 ? is 'utterly unrealistic, and industry was concerned given Revenue's poor record with IT'.

June: IT fears again. Industry asks if the Revenue is talking to the Construction Industry Computer Association over software. The Revenue said it was 'unaware of this organisation'.

August: Industry concerned that its suggestions for change are being 'stifled' due to the proviso that Exchequer tax yield must not fall.

October: Industry frustrations build as they have 'the impression that the Revenue is working in isolation', and had 'no feedback on ideas put forward'. Revenue still to address problems of companies with multiple trading names registering under the CIS scheme.

December: CIS postponed until April 2006 'to allow more time to consult with industry.'

2004: Industry in the dark January: Revenue outlines plans to crack down on employment status in the indust ry with doubling of tax inspectors to 250.

February: Industry expresses concerns that incorrect details supplied under CIS could cause 30 per cent default tax 'and a great deal of friction within the industry'.

March: Paymaster general Dawn Primarolo 'confirms there will be no defer ral of implementation of the new scheme'.

May: Industry asked when employment status tool would be available, saying it had been promised the tool would be available for external testing in January 2004 but this had not been forthcoming.

June: Industry concerned that Revenue wanted to abolish monthly meetings to talk about the new scheme.

September: Indust ry said that in 1999 [when the first CIS scheme was introduced] they had regular meetings with the Revenue to f lag up problems, which were not acted on. This time the Revenue had to take notice of what industry was telling them.

October: Indust ry pleas: 'It is key that operational detail is available very soon.' November: Revenue promises ? again ? to look at multiple trading name issue.

December: Industry raises the question of the lack of a suff iciently detailed wr ite-up of the scheme in its ent irety at an operational level.

2005: Panic grows January: Industry says: 'The minutes did not record a number of important points ? in particular that the industry side did not think the April 2006 date was achievable.' Februa ry: Concerns over sof twa re developers' ability to deliver IT systems for CIS.

April: Industry said it wanted to lobby the minister regarding a delay in the implementation of the new scheme.

May: Severe reservations about industry readiness.

July: Industry puts forward three-stage plan to ease in CIS, delaying monthly returns until April 2007. This is rejected out of hand by new CIS supremo, Doug Tweddle.

September: Joint Taxation Committee and Construction Confederation pull out of CIRIP, predicting chaos and criticising Revenue for not listening.

October: CIS scheme delayed until April 2007.