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New UK Tax Guide Weighs In At 10,000 Pages

by Robert Lee,, London

06 September 2007

Despite the UK government's claims that it is committed to reducing the complexity of tax legislation, the latest Tolley's Yellow Tax Handbook shows that it is making little headway in this regard, with the latest edition coming in at just under 10,000 pages.

The 2007 version of the handbook, which reproduces all the major UK tax legislation and related guidance, has been published in four volumes containing a total of 9,866 pages - 40% more than the 2001 edition which ran to just under 6,000 pages.

The guide is often cited as an unofficial barometer of the size and complexity of UK tax legislation, and when the Labour government came to power in 1997, the handbook was 4,555 pages long.

While it could be said that the amount of new tax legislation has leveled off over the past year - the 2007 edition has only 60 more pages than the 2006 handbook - LexisNexis, which publishes the guide, had to change the layout of the book to squeeze it into four volumes. Without these changes, the guide would have run into an extra volume, and topped 10,500 pages.

Many of these pages are taken up with guidance rather than legislation itself, but ironically, the additional guidance has come about due to the government's efforts to shorten legislation in certain areas.

A Treasury spokesman told the Daily Telegraph that the government takes the issue of complexity "very seriously" and has "a good record" on measures to simplify the tax system.

"Merely counting the pages of a tax handbook does not give any kind of accurate representation of the Government's tax reforms," the spokesman said.

However, according to the publishers, next year's handbook could well expand into 6 volumes.

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