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CIOT Urges UK Treasury To Consult More Over Tax Plans

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

25 October 2007

While the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has supported the view expressed in the recent Treasury Select Committee report that simplification of the UK's business tax system is needed, it has expressed alarm at the government's apparent reluctance to consult with business about many of its tax plans.

"The CIOT has already welcomed Chancellor Alistair Darling's announcement that simplification would be key to how the tax system develops in the future," John Cullinane, Chairman of the CIOT's Corporate Tax Sub-Committee stated.

However, the Institute has said that its welcome is balanced by concern over the lack of prior consultation on some significant changes to the tax system.

Cullinane continued:

"Real simplification is very challenging. Almost every piece of the current over-complex mess brings potential benefit to someone. Taxpayers and representative bodies must give a balanced response to government proposals to tackle this problem - we cannot simply criticise every proposal because it has some disadvantages as well as benefits. Equally, the government needs to consult in advance on matters of major change so investors and businesses large and small do not have it sprung on them - and do get some sense of the future direction of change."

“The CIOT accepts that the government is ultimately responsible for decisions on the tax system and may have to make decisions that many do not like. However, consultation will improve the quality of those decisions and build stronger support for them, even if some outcomes are not welcomed by all of those consulted. In short, government, representative bodies and taxpayers alike will need to be very grown up if the Treasury Committee's recommendation is to be progressed."

As an educational charity, the CIOT said that one of its objectives is to ensure that the tax system works.

Cullinane added: "The CIOT also believes it would be very useful for there to be a review of how tax law is made and scrutinised in the first place, so that we don't add to the problem as fast as we try to tackle it."

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