Tax Law Rewrite Project stirs up dissent

PROFESSIONALS DISAGREE over the value provided by the Tax Law Rewrite Project, with some having welcomed the changes while others considered it a waste of resources.

The government project was set up in 1996, with Ipsos MORI commissioned by HM Revenue and Customs to conduct research into its effectiveness and whether or not it made the legislation easier to use.

Language was simplified and income tax provisions were divided into three acts – changes that met with approval from the majority of tax professionals – while trainers were especially pleased with the benefits simpler language brought to their students.

Stakeholders, though, said these changes did little to make the legislation more accessible to non-professionals because the complex underlying rules remained broadly unchanged. At the same time, experts questioned if the public would try to read the primary material, arguing that it is far more likely they would first consult a tax professional.

On this basis, some questioned if the resources had been well spent; tax experts were unhappy with the added length of the rules, while legal professionals and some accountants said the TLRP had neither made their jobs any easier nor reduced the risk of misinterpretation.

The majority of respondents found it hard to quantify time and efficiency savings as a result of TLRP. Despite this, non-legal tax professionals were generally positive about the project, though the majority of experts in the field said the rewrite had missed a crucial chance to simplify legislation.

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