17 Feb 2016 08:53am

Government not doing enough to simplify tax code

The government’s consultation on its Enterprise Bill does not go “far enough” to illuminate how tax administration is inhibiting businesses, ICAEW has warned

A consultation document, which the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published earlier this month on the Enterprise Bill, proposes to bring the activities of a number of state regulators - including HMRC - within the scope of the Business Impact Target (BIT). This means that they would be required to report on the impact that any regulations would have on business.

The proposed 56-strong list of regulators includes Companies House, the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Financial Reporting Council and HMRC. 

Frank Haskew, head of ICAEW’s tax faculty, said that bringing HMRC into the scope of the BIT legislation was a step in the right direction but not one that went far enough. Much more needed to be done to simplify the UK tax code, which he described as “one of the most complicated in the world”.

In response to the consultation, ICAEW said if the government wanted to get serious about helping businesses, it needed to face up to the burden companies faced in relation to tax administration and its knock-on effect in stifling economic growth.

Haskew said, “The complexity of the tax code suppresses entrepreneurial spirit and inhibits economic growth, while providing more opportunities for tax avoidance.

“By bringing the tax code and HM Treasury into the scope of the Enterprise Bill, government could make a head start on recognising the burdens on businesses created by a complicated tax code, which should also be properly factored in to the government’s £10bn deregulatory target.”

The consultation will run until 17 March 2016.

Jessica Fino


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