CIOT sets MPs tax challenge

The institute has sent all 658 MPs a letter asking them to volunteer to complete tax forms for the year end 2000 without any professional assistance and to calculate their tax liability using the Inland Revenue’s own guide.

Nine million people are now paying their tax using the self-assessment system. These taxpayers have now been given the opportunity of using the internet to file their returns, but anyone trying to use the system in August may have found the service out of action.

And the experiment has already prompted two back-bench MPs to admit it is time to simplify the system.

Labour MP for Worsley Terry Lewis admitted the job was beyond him while former minister Malcolm Chisholm said he would attempt the difficult task.

Both admitted that they paid accountants to do their returns for them.

Lewis said: ‘I couldn’t do it. I pay an accountant several hundred pounds to do my returns for me. The tax system is far too complicated for ordinary people and needs to be simplified.’

Malcolm Chisholm, the former Scottish Office minister and MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said: ‘I’ll have a go. I think I can get it right if I try hard enough.

‘I normally pay an accountant to help me. The tax system is far too complicated and needs to be simplified.’

Institute president Rich Mannion said: ‘This exercise ought to result in a mass uprising in the House. The institute is campaigning vigorously to simplify the tax system.’

The institute said it has written to MPs because individual taxpayers ?especially pensioners and small-business people – find it too difficult to deal with. It also pointed out that the Finance Act 2000 added almost 600 pages of complex new legislation to the several thousand already in existence.

Mannion said: ‘I have spent my whole career in the field of taxation, but I would no longer dare to calculate the tax position for a client with even moderate complicated affairs without the use of a specialised computer programme.’

‘By inviting MPs to handle their own tax this year we are trying to draw attention to the vastly over complicated tax system and create a climate for real change.

‘We are confident that MPs will respond to our proposal, speak out about their experiences and thus focus government attention on the desperate need for fair taxation.’

CIOT website

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