Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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Your chance to simplify the tax system

5th Apr 2016
Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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Would you be interested in helping to reform the UK’s ailing tax system?

As part of its expanded remit, the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) is looking to recruit up to four tax professionals with current or recent private sector experience to work on its corporate tax review.

It’s more than likely that someone among the hundreds of AccountingWEB members who have bemoaned the state of the tax system over the years would be able to fit the OTS’s requirements.

While hesitating to call the OTS a quango, it was set up as an independent body, but is shown on the Gov.com website as “part of HM Treasury”. The organisation is chaired by former Conservative minister Angela Knight and would involve working with OTS tax policy director John Whiting.

The roles on offer appear to be quite flexible, with positions available as secondments, employee loans or fixed term appointments for either 6 months or a year. They can be either full-time or part-time, with the possibility of working from home.

But don’t assume it’ll be a cosy little desk research job. The note explains that the advisers will be expected to attend meetings around the country with interested parties, businesses of all sizes, tax professionals, charities, HMRC staff, academics and representative bodies. They will also need to drop into OTS HQ at least once a week.

At Budget time last month, Treasury minister David Gauke published a note detailing which of the OTS measures the government had decided to implement from its small business review, and setting out the agenda for the simplification body’s involvement in developing the business tax road map.

The letter highlighted a number of strands that will interest AccountingWEB members:

A new sole enterprise protected assets (SEPA) structure that would give sole traders a certain amount of liability protection as a lower maintenance alternative to incorporating a company

Develop a “lookthrough” taxation mechanism that could be applied to some small companies, for example by taxing proprietors directly on their income and ignoring the company. Like many AccountingWEB members, the OTS concluded that lookthrough wouldn’t work generally for small companies, but it might offer a simpler route for some. “The challenge is to define them and test whether it would be simpler,” Whiting told AccountingWEB.

The OTS is also starting work on a new review of ways to simplify the corporation tax computation for all companies.

So if you’re one of those people who has vented your spleen about the idiocies of the tax system in the past, here’s your chance to actually do something about it.

With a hint of wry exasperation, Whiting lamented about how the OTS is always being attacked for not understanding the real world - a somewhat curious stance, he added, “given the people we hire and their backgrounds”.

Replies (9)

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By memyself-eye
05th Apr 2016 11:20

I'm sure

John Whiting has a sound grasp of the necessary steps required top achieve tax simplification. However those in power - of whatever political persuasion - do not and will never have either the will or the means to change anything. The urge to 'tinker' for a few rounds of applause at budget time is too strong

"Make me repent my sins lord....but not just yet"

Thanks (4)
By johnjenkins
05th Apr 2016 11:51


John you do know that April fool is on the 1st April.

If I thought for one moment my input would be at least given some thought I would jump at the chance. However we all know nobody will listen, never mind act upon, to what is reality and what is needed.

Thanks (1)
By North East Accountant
08th Apr 2016 12:27


johnjenkins wrote:

John you do know that April fool is on the 1st April.

If I thought for one moment my input would be at least given some thought I would jump at the chance. However we all know nobody will listen, never mind act upon, to what is reality and what is needed.

I have the utmost respect for the guys at OTS but johnjenkins is spot on.

Thanks (1)
By kevinringer
13th Apr 2016 13:48

1st April or 5th April?

johnjenkins wrote:

John you do know that April fool is on the 1st April.

If I thought for one moment my input would be at least given some thought I would jump at the chance. However we all know nobody will listen, never mind act upon, to what is reality and what is needed.

John, April fools is only on 1st April for corporations, for the unincorporated it is 5th April ;-)

This leads to something I have discussed with the legendary John Whiting: why are we the only major economy with a tax year that doesn't coincide with a calendar month? I think Iran is one other country with an odd date: but that is because they use a different calendar (a bit like HMRC really). John said that changing the date would be a simplification but there isn't the political will, which raises the question as to why have the OTS if its recommendations aren't carried out.

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By mattias
07th Apr 2016 08:57

How do we make them act?
It will take mass civil disobedience before they take any of us seriously.

As we are professionals that is not a route we will take.

Many politicians have business experience so why are they not angry enough to sort things out? Is it because they are now ' above that sort of thing?' Or would it just damage their future careers by stirring things up.

I had hoped John Whiting would have made much more progress by now but he seems stuck in the mire with the rest of them.

The solutions are so damn obvious that they could come from someone on £5200 never mind £52000!

Thanks (0)
By pawncob
08th Apr 2016 11:58


I thought they gave up years ago. 

They were (are?) fighting a tsunami of unnecessary tax legislation.

Tax Simplification is  an oxymoron.

Thanks (0)
By Tom 7000
08th Apr 2016 12:36

Average salary


According to ICAEW average salary of an ACA is £100k.


So if you want a really good one to suggest amendments to countrywide policy on tax lets pay half of this...


If you give me £75m for the project to be delivered in 6 months, I will give you a comprehensive overview and reccomendations on how you can simplify the system and maintain the tax intake that will work for both the government and majority of tax payers and make the system simple and stable


I dont need that much, but unless  HMRC pay that much then they wont listen to what I have to say. By the way I will give you half of it back in tax 45% tax 2% nic... so it will really only cost you half this number....


Cynical old me



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By androo235
12th Apr 2016 00:06

The remit is too narrow.

“The economic case for a land value tax is simple, and almost undeniable. Why, then, do we not have one already? Why, indeed, is the possibility of such a tax barely part of the mainstream political debate, with proponents considered marginal and unconventional? Mirrlees Review, Tax by Design, Chapter 16



However, although it is advocating the adoption of an LVT to anyone that has read Henry George, the first page contains a gross error. It says, 


"..... The house is also a valuable asset, whose value rises and fluctuates like those of stocks and shares."


The house doesn't fluctuate in value any more than any other depreciating asset does, it depreciates slowly maybe, but it depreciates, like any other durable asset. No, what fluctuates in value is the land it sits on, whose location value, can soar and crash, though is mostly directed upward as most of the gain from economic growth, not to mention financial bubbles, and inequality, flow into the value of land.

My other criticism of Mirlees and the IFS is that they see LVT as only a replacement for NNDR and Council Tax. It is much more than that and should become the central tax in the economy. That land rents are capable of being the principle source of public revenue is evidenced by their role as the source of the speculation that brought us to where we are now (I’m referring to the 2008 crash and others before it, going back a few hundred years) and their continued role as the main store of value, hiding place and means of transmission of privilege from one generation to another of the wealthy.

This OTS is a band-aid at best, it will achieve little that lasts or that matters much if all it does is turn the clock back, let’s be optimistic and say to the early 80’s (I only mean in terms of the state of the tax system, after the mistakes of the 70’s Labour Governments but before the Tories started on the road to today's 21,000 page Tolleys). If they do that it will be 2008 again soon enough.

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By johnjenkins
13th Apr 2016 14:08


The demise or should I say futility of the OTS was the object of my post. From what I can gather HMRC treat 31st March - 5th April as one except for RTI.

Mind you when it comes to dealing with HMRC everyday seems like a fools day.

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