UK tax to be simplified

The UK has one of the most detailed tax codes in the developed economies. Readers might be amused, bemused, that the so-called Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has launched a high level strategy consultation that aims to move its tax simplification agenda forwards.

The aim is to make our tax system easier to understand and therefore simpler to use.

Here’s what Angela Knight, chair of the OTS said:

“Some areas of tax will always be complex but the OTS aims to make using the system as easy as possible. Just as a mobile phone is a complicated piece of engineering but is pretty straightforward to make a call or send a text, so we intend for taxpayers to be able to manage their tax affairs with less hassle.

The world of work though is changing rapidly, whether it is what is often called the sharing economy or whether it is just that the Internet and e-commerce agenda has changed so much of what we do. The three strands of the OTS strategy are to consider the tax issues that are arising as the world of work changes; to address specific complex areas; and to play a greater role in the digital agenda. To support this, we also will be taking an active role in the public debate on tax.”

To deliver its strategy the OTS plans to:

  • set out how new trends and changes in business and employment (such as the sharing economy) will impact on tax
  • consider how to make tax simpler given these changes to how we work
  • reviews areas integral to these trends and identify difficult issues where an informed discussion is required
  • take the issues and options out for wide discussion and evidence gathering
  • encourage simplification to be built into tax policy making and implementation early on in the process
  • engage closely with HMRC on its important digital agenda

The OTS will shortly become a statutory body, with a new and broader remit. This high level strategy sets out the purpose and aims of the OTS; the work it does; how and with whom it will undertake its work; and its impact and influence.

The consultation aims to ensure tax becomes simpler, with the UK remaining attractive to business, and reflects the OTS new broader remit as a statutory body. The document is also intended to prepare the ground for the OTS stakeholder conference, which is planned for 18 July 2016.