Tax complexity undermines business growth

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In 2006, the then Labour government introduced “pension simplification”. The idea was to sweep away a myriad of confusing and conflicting legislation which had rendered navigating one’s way through the rules somewhat of a voyage of discovery, explains Andy White.

Even then, we had primary protection and enhanced protection to contend with, but those seemed to be sensible measures designed to benefit the individual so we accepted them.

Then we had the proposals to restrict tax relief for higher rate taxpayers. And then anti-forestalling. Followed by fixed protection. And auto-enrolment. And flexible drawdown.

And auto-enrolment

So at a time when the government should be encouraging people to invest in pensions to mitigate the huge drain on the state caused by increased life expectancy, what is it doing? Overlaying complexity upon complexity making pension provision a most unattractive proposition.

And worst of all...

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24th Apr 2013 22:27

but tax isn't supposed to be taxing

Cracking article, Andy.

However, I feel the implications to resident UK companies is going to cause the economy more distress than a lack of foreign investment.

I'm not disagreeing with you - the pain will be as palpable to UK business owners as it is so obviously to you for all of the above reasons and more.

Umbrella companies with untouchable employees, information exchanges that reveal where UK business people are dumping their loot, even a call to complain to HMRC is now going to cost those who were getting 0845 numbers for zip if the comments on Rachael's post are accurate.

Happy days ahead?  There is an Arthur in what I'm thinking, but it's got nothing to do with where The Fonz, Richie or Joanie used to hang out in '57 Milwaukee.

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25th Apr 2013 09:22

Agreed great article.

Years ago I used to back horses - not heavy, but I kept losing. So I devised a scheme whereby I would pick all but 3 horses and my mate would do the other 3 each way. Over 30 years (yes we still do it) we have come out on top.

Now the point of this tale is that it would appear the Chancellor is one of those people that nearly always get it wrong so perhaps he should do the opposite of what he is doing.

Apart from Germany all EU countries are now preparing plan B.

Surely all the EU have to do is write off all debts and start again, at least then it will be controllable.

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26th Apr 2013 16:10

Yes, good article

Everyone says it is good to simplify the tax code, but it does not happen. So what are the real barriers?

It seems to me that one of the biggest barriers is the fact that every simplification will involve winners and losers, which will be endlessly dissected in the press and on the internet. Tax is always inherently unfair to an extent, but the perceived unfairness will be put in the spotlight if there is a change that makes A better off but B worse off. A will keep quiet and B will shout from the rooftops. The parliamentary opposition will make political capital on behalf of B. So once it is in place, it is difficult to change it.

That accounts for the reluctance to merge tax and NIC, for example, which would be a huge simplification.

However, that makes the failure to get things right in the first place even more disappointing. Gordon Brown had several ridiculous ideas, including the zero CT rate (despite being warned that businesses would not look a gift horse in the mouth). The recent fiasco over the AIA rates going up and down, with absurdly complex transitional rules, shows that the current chancellor can sadly make decisions that are just as flawed. 

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29th Apr 2013 12:13

less change is what we need?

It is clear that the idiots at the top do not have a clue what they are doing, do not understand what they have done. Their response to a problem is to create another one to keep us all busy before we fixed the last one.

RTI = an inducement to pay cash wages and by pass the record system (will work the same way as the CIS), they have just made it too complicated for Joe plumbers wife to understand.

= second option is you can choose to be self employed? problem gone.

auto-enrolment another cost to employers ha ha very funny = delay all expansion, pay rises and ensure everyone is self employed. Otherwise rich pickings for a pensions industry who can very often ensure your pension is worth less than you put in.

What we all need is access to the government employees pension scheme, they all get massive pensions for not doing much?

yes there are penalties but unless you tell HMRC yourself you will not get these as you even have to self assess these too.


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