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ICAEW Welcomes Smaller Finance Act

by Jason Gorringe,, London

16 August 2007

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England And Wales (ICAEW) on Wednesday welcomed the reduction in size of this years's UK Finance Act, but expressed continuing concerns regarding the complexity of the United Kingdom's tax law.

Tax law complexity is overseen by the ICAEW via its 'Big Ben Statutory Tax Burden' monitor.

The Institute explained that:

"By establishing an annual monitor of tax complexity called Big Ben’s Statutory Tax Burden, the Tax Faculty of the ICAEW aims to highlight the burden on taxpayers by using the illustration of Big Ben – a symbol of British Parliament and law-making."

It continued:

"Comparing the number of pages in each Finance Act is a simple, but effective, method of showing how Big Ben has been increasingly straining under the weight of legislation."

"This year however the pages in the Finance Act have declined from 506 in 2006 to 309 in 2007 – a fall of 39%. But despite this drop the average number of Finance Act pages this decade is still more than three times the average in the early part of the 1980s."

"The Tax Faculty believes that this reduction is a step in the right direction and would like to work with the Treasury to carry this forward in future years. The Tax Faculty is however pleased to see that the new Chancellor, Alastair Darling MP, has already indicated that simplification will be a key objective of his time as Chancellor."

"The Tax Faculty believes that less complicated and well drafted legislation will help ensure that amendments do not be need to be made at a later date."

Ian Young, technical manager at the ICAEW Tax Faculty, added:

“We welcome the decline in the number of pages in the Finance Act and hope that this is the start of a trend to simplify the tax system – something that the ICAEW has been calling for for a number of years."

"The new Chancellor has the chance to play a significant part in helping to reduce the tax burden for businesses in the UK.”

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