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'Be brave on tax simplification', is message from new tax body chief
by Susie Hughes at 11:36 10/05/17 (News on Business)
In his inaugural speech as President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), John Preston will encourage whichever Government is elected on June 8 to be prepared to be brave on tax simplification.

Speaking at the CIOT’s annual general meeting he will also:

  • Set out how the Institute is improving its offering to members, students and their employers, including a comprehensive exam review;
  • Float the idea of a commonly agreed baseline of standards of behaviour for tax professionals internationally;
  • Criticise government for not doing enough to help taxpayers on low incomes understand and engage with the tax system;
  • Warn of continuing concerns about the way that the Making Tax Digital programme is being implemented.

On tax simplification John Preston will say:
“Whichever party wins on June 8, we hope they take seriously the unquestionable need to simplify the UK tax system… Whilst the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has achieved a great deal under John Whiting’s leadership and, I’m sure, will continue the great work under his successor Paul Morton, it must feel at times that they are fighting with one hand tied behind their back with the Government deciding certain reforms are simply politically unacceptable.

"Clearly that is Government’s call, but my personal view is that they may be underestimating what the population may be prepared to consider if the matter was properly explained to them. It was certainly encouraging that they were so warm in their welcome of the Better Budgets report”.

On Making Tax Digital...
“One of our key roles is to try to ensure that tax policy and administration in the UK is as realistic and workable as possible. To that end, whilst as an Institute we are very supportive of the principle of digitalising the tax system, we continue to have some concerns about the way that the Making Tax Digital programme is being implemented.

"It was encouraging that the start date was delayed by 12 months for businesses below the VAT threshold but as everyone in this room knows well, there remain areas of concern especially in relation to its impact on small businesses. We are keen to continue to work with HMRC to see if those concerns can be addressed”.

On Government help for taxpayers on low incomes.....
“Something for which we may not get enough credit from the public is the fantastic work that our Low Incomes Tax Reform Group do. LITRG is a key part of the CIOT and it does truly excellent work in protecting the interests of those on low pay or who have retired.

"At the risk of being controversial, I am really concerned that shortage of funds means that HMRC and the Government are failing to provide the necessary levels of support to ensure the tax system deals with such people properly and I do feel that LITRG is sometimes doing things that unquestionably should be done by Government.

"After all, if Government continues to maintain a complicated tax system, surely they have an obligation to ensure that they explain it properly to those least able to deal with it.”

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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2017

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