Tax code swells by 150% in 12 years

LexisNexis has found the UK’s tax code weighs in at double the amount of
pages it did in 1997, when the Labour government came into power.

On the the launch of the 2009 edition of its tax guide, Tolley’s Yellow Tax
Handbook, the business information company said the current issue contained
11,520 pages, compared to 4,998 pages twelve years ago.

Tax experts said the significant increase highlights the growing complexity
of the UK tax system and the impact of the government’s recent attempts to
introduce recession-busting legislation.

LexisNexis tax expert Mike Truman said: “The complexity of the UK tax system
has been increasing the burden of compliance on businesses and individuals alike
for many years.

“Although initially Alastair Darling looked as if he might bring
simplification to the system as Chancellor, it seems to have been a false dawn,
and we have seen little evidence of the tide of legislation ebbing.

“While the end of the tax law rewrite programme will allow some transitional
provisions to fall out of the code, there has been a tremendous increase in the
pages of legislation devoted to revenue powers and anti-avoidance.”

The UK now has the longest tax code in the world, creating numerous problems
of interpretation, understanding, and locating legislation, Lexis Nexis warned.

“There is a desperate need to curb the temptation of all Chancellors to
meddle with the tax system, and to focus instead on removing unnecessary
complexity,” added Truman.

“At the moment, despite the stated desire to simplify, there is no sign of
this happening in practice; indeed, we are moving in the wrong direction.”

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