Following on from calls by ICAS to improve the tax system Vincent Oratore, the new President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), spoke at the Institute's AGM:
"The way tax law is developed and implemented in the UK is deeply flawed. There is not enough expert scrutiny and there is a shortage of parliamentary time for considering the effect that changes to the tax system will have before they are made law.
This year's pre-election Finance Bill, which was rushed through with just three hours of debate in the House of Commons, is a particularly glaring example, but even the usual process often results in tax law which lacks clarity or has unintended consequences.
It is a key aim of the CIOT to achieve a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it - taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities who collect tax. This is why I will be campaigning for improvements to the process of developing tax law during my Presidency of the CIOT and will shortly be publishing a paper on this subject, and engaging with politicians inside and outside government to build the widest possible support for reform.
Ministers in both parties in the new government have been sympathetic to reform in this area. Our aim over the next 12 months will be to provoke debate and provide a forum in which all those with an interest in tax law reform can contribute ideas and build consensus for the changes we need to make the tax system fit for the 21st century."
He also delivered an open letter to George Osborne, the new Chancellor, outlining the four key areas that Oratore believes need tackling:
- the tax system lacks a proper design
- the system is too complex and is in need of a dedicated body to aid simplification
- it needs an an improved law making process
- there should be a focus on removing "uncertainty" from the way taxes are managed by the government.
However, as I noted earlier this week, Osborne's priority, rightly or wrongly, will be to reduce the budget deficit as quickly as possible. Sadly, simplifying the tax system will not be his number one priority.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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