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UK Tax Law Rewrite Project Draws To A Close

by Robert Lee,, London

31 July 2009

After 13 years of activity, the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Tax Law Rewrite Project is to end next year, the Treasury has announced.

Launched in 1996, the project is responsible for rewriting direct tax legislation, to make it clearer and easier for users to understand.

“The Tax Law Rewrite project has played a key role in modernising our tax legislation and its work has rightly been widely praised,” commented Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary to the Treasury. "The mainstream direct tax legislation is now far more accessible and easier to apply than the legislation that went before and when the project’s next two Bills are enacted, the time will be right to bring this work to an end.

Since its creation, the project has resulted in 6 pieces of legislation and tax regulations being rewritten, including: The Capital Allowances Act 2001; The Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003; The Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act 2005; The Income Tax Act 2007; The Corporation Tax Act 2009; and The PAYE Regulations.

The main goals of the project are to reproduce tax legislation in a clearer, more logical tax structure with use of plain language while attempting not to alter the main tax policies.

A high level Steering Committee, chaired by Lord Newton of Braintree, oversees the project. A Consultative Committee, consisting of representative bodies and other interested parties, also meets on a regular basis to consider issues and the draft legislation in more detail.

“With the completion of the project’s work, legislation for the mainstream direct taxes will now be much easier for users to navigate and understand,” Timms continued. “This is a very significant achievement and I am grateful for the contribution of everyone involved in it.”

The second Corporation Tax Bill and the Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Bill, which rewrites provisions that deal mainly with international taxation issues, is expected to be enacted in the spring of 2010.

Work currently on hand will be completed by the end of 2009/10, with only minor amendments to existing rewritten legislation to be undertaken after that, the Treasury informed.

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