OTS boss admits tax system will never be simple

The Office of Tax Simplification has made a stark admission that even its cheerleaders have long suspected – and feared: that the UK tax system will never be completely simple.

In a rare interview, OTS boss John Whiting said he does “not believe we will ever get to a completely simple tax system,” despite his brief to “drive out complexity” from it.

Instead, taxpayers and the public at large, whose respect for the system the former PwC partner thinks could be cemented if his office succeeds, can only hope for “simpler” taxes.

But Mr Whiting, 61, cautioned that making tax law clearer could sometimes require more words to be added to the tax code, even though OTS’s broad aim is to make it shorter.

To that end, more than 100 pages of tax law have already been ripped up since the ex-president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation accepted his role at the OTS in July 2010.

Although it has now finished its work on freelance issues, such as IR35, in his interview with the Mail on Sunday Mr Whiting said the OTS’s task of simplification was not over.

In fact, having already addressed pensioners’ taxation and employee share schemes, OTS’s current focus is reportedly on coming up with a shortlist from more than 20 separate issues.

The tax treatment of business interest payments and VAT were said to be among those under consideration, alongside employee expenses and benefits, which the taxman is toughening on. 

 

30th October 2012

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