Measures to curb the chancellor of the exchequer's ability to create unlimited tax law have been called for by Lord Geoffrey Howe who has also proposed a new body to oversee the simplification of the tax system.
Speaking in the annual Hardman Lecture at the English ICA, Lord Howe, a former chancellor and currently spearheading the Tax Law Rewrite Project, said a two pronged attack was needed to counter the ever increasing complexity of tax law.
In a speech which has met with much acclaim he said the situation had to be ‘stabilised’ by cutting the volume of tax law and then ‘simplified’ with a new programme on the same model as the Tax Law Rewrite Project.
He said the system would only be stabilised when revenue departments and chancellors no longer had a guarantee, under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, to make as much tax law as they wanted.
Calling for a Tax Structure Review Programme Lord said it would have as its main objective the development of ‘a strategy for tax simplification that becomes incorporated into the process of generating tax policy itself.’
The project would have a working group which would include members from the revenue departments plus representatives from professional, business and academic bodies.
A steering group would also be formed which could take the form of a parliamentary select committee and might include a senior member of the government.
Lord Howe said that ‘mobilising the resources to make these changes happen- and above the political will to achieve them – is going to be the hardest task of all.