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Tax Tax

Simplify the tax system

Last updated: 03:06pm 11 January 2019

A good tax system is not just about the headline rates of tax, however, but about its simplicity. Our system remains too complicated, making it hard for people – especially self-employed people and small businesses – to assess their taxes. We will therefore simplify the tax system.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.14

Our verdict

The subject of tax simplification has been a pretty big deal for lots of governments. Back in its 2007 Pre-budget Report, the government of that time reaffirmed its “commitment to tax simplification”.  In July 2010 the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) was launched, since when over 200 OTS recommendations have been implemented. However, other tax simplifications, such as the Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative have been delayed until 2019-2020.

So what has actually changed since this government came to power? In November 2017, the OTS published a report offering a range of proposals for simplifying the VAT, and has published several other reports since then, covering tax on savings, fixed assets, and inheritance. Responses from the Chancellor on tax relief for fixed assets and inheritance tax suggest the OTS reviews are being considered, but no hard and fast changes have been made yet.

Before we can move this to ‘done’ we’ll be looking for clear tax simplification policies that have been implemented. We’ll also be getting feedback from organisations representing self-employed people and small businesses (as they get a specific mention in the manifesto). In the meantime this is ‘in progress’. Follow this policy for updates.

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