Cearns will chair the board of the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) as well as leading it.
She will work alongside OTS tax director Bill Dowell, who was appointed to the role last month, and will direct engagement with the Treasury, HMRC, ministers and parliament.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to help to develop a tax system in the UK that is straightforward for taxpayers while remaining effective and fit for purpose for the 21st century,” Cearns said.
Financial secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride thanked Knight for her hard work over the past three years and said that Cearns will play a vital role in meeting the government’s commitment to make the tax system is as simple as possible for everyone.
“Her impressive track-record of leadership in the public and private sectors and strong vision made her the ideal candidate to steer the OTS through the next phase of its work,” he said.
Cearns has a wealth of experience in the private and public sector. She served as the chair of the ICAEW Financial Reporting Committee between 2008 and 2017 and as the chair of the Financial Reporting Advisory Board to the Treasury between 2010 and 2016.
Cearns was previously project director at the UK Accounting Standards Board (now the Financial reporting Council) and involved in writing some of the UK’s earliest text on the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and was formerly at Big Four firm EY.
She holds a number of non-executive and advisory roles including as a member of the External Audit Committee for the International Monetary Fund, as a non-executive director of the UK Supreme Court and as non-executive board member of the Audit Committee for Companies House among others.
Her appointment is subject to approval by the Treasury Select Committee with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday 5 March.