OTS look for new tax director as Whiting steps down

THE TREASURY has begun its search to find a new permanent tax director for the Office of Tax Simplification, after current director John Whiting decided to finish his six-and-a-half year “stint” with the independent office.

On 13 June, the Treasury confirmed Whiting’s forthcoming departure from the role which he has served in since the OTS’ creation in 2010.

The Treasury is now on the lookout for a new tax director to lead the office’s work to provide independent advice to the chancellor on simplifying the UK tax system.

The tax director’s responsibilities include:

  • Providing the intellectual leadership and guidance for the office, working with the chair and head of office to oversee its operation and output in accordance with the OTS’s strategic vision. Ensuring it delivers robust evidence based reviews and recommendations in line with published Terms of Reference.
  • Leading OTS engagement and relationships with HM Treasury ministers, parliament and a wide range of senior internal and external stakeholders as well as representing the OTS at public engagements. This could include presenting evidence to parliamentary select committees on the work of the OTS and representing the OTS in the media.
  • Using knowledge of the tax system and political debates to drive forward OTS work including deciding on proposals for reviews to submit to the Chancellor. Using knowledge of the tax and business community to facilitate the OTS’s work.
  • Taking joint responsibility with the Chair for the work of the OTS, including the overall content of OTS reports as well as attending and taking responsibility for decisions of the OTS Board.

Speaking to Accountancy Age about his decision to step down from the role, Whiting indicated that he would like to play a role in finding his successor.

“I’m a great believer that people shouldn’t carry on with jobs forever,” said Whiting.

“Like anyone else, I’d like to quit when, well I wouldn’t say ‘ahead’… but before a point when other people tell me to go.

“I’ve had a good stint. My aim is that I hope the OTS will continue, so I will hope to play a role in finding my successor. I’ll be involved, but I think I won’t be on the panel,” continued Whiting.

The OTS director also told Accountancy Age that its business as usual concerning the office’s income tax and NI alignment plans, despite his plans to leave.

“I don’t think it makes any differences to that, I am still in the job till November, so my target is to make sure we finish our work on income tax/NICs. We’re due to put out further project work by the end of October, so then it’s over to the government to put out a full response, which we expect to receive in the Autumn Statement.

“If there is progress on this issue, it will be a short-term process not a long-term one, and it will be up to my successor to make sure they keep the pressure up.”

Last week, Whiting was awarded with a CBE for services to tax simplification. In 2008 he was awarded an OBE for public service.

Whiting has held the part-time OTS role since it was established in 2010, taking the role permanently in 2011. Until 2013 he was the tax policy director of the CIoT. Previously, he was a tax partner at PwC. He is also a non-executive director of HMRC and a board member of Revenue Scotland.

The OTS is being put on a statutory footing in the Finance Bill 2016.

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