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UK Launches Office Of Tax Simplification

by Amanda Banks,, London

21 July 2010

UK Chancellor George Osborne is unveiling plans for a new Office of Tax Simplification (OTS). The new, independent body will, as the name suggests, be tasked with simplifying the British tax system.

In particular, the new OTS will try and assist small and medium sized businesses to overcome the bureaucracy and red tape which surrounds tax returns and tax codes.

The Institute of Directors (IOD), which has more than 45,000 members, welcomed the news but warned that it will only succeed in its task if it has ‘teeth’. In a statement released on Monday, the IOD said that though Ministers will continue to make policy decisions, they must not be allowed to "muzzle the Office, or overlook its recommendations."

The IOD statement said that three conditions must be met for the OTS to be effective:

  • The Office must be genuinely independent. It must take evidence from the Treasury and Revenue, and from outsiders, on the same basis, with no special access for the Treasury or Revenue, and no cosy relationship between its staff and those departments.
  • It must report publicly on all the ideas it has looked at that are worthy of serious consideration, including those that contradict government policy.
  • Ministers must be required to respond in detail to all the Office’s proposals, setting out the precise economic or technical reasons why each rejected proposal is being rejected.

Richard Baron, Head of Taxation at the Institute of Directors, said:

“We warmly welcome the new government’s decision to set up the Office of Tax Simplification. It is a long overdue initiative. The important thing now is to make sure that the Office achieves some early successes, and that it goes on achieving. Its recommendations must not end up stamped ‘too difficult’ or ‘maybe in the longer term’.”

The creation of the new body was announced in the emergency budget last month.

TAGS: compliance | tax | business | tax compliance | law | corporation tax | United Kingdom | tax reform | individual income tax

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