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United Kingdom: Office of Tax Simplification Placed on Statutory Basis

(Dec. 20, 2016) The Office of Tax Simplification, part of Her Majesty’s Treasury, was recently placed on a statutory basis by Part 12 of the Finance Act 2016 (Finance Act 2016, c. 24, Part 12 & Sched. 25, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK), which was brought into force on November 28, 2016, by a recent set of regulations of the Finance Act.  (The Finance Act 2016, Sections 184 to 188 and Schedule 25 (Commencement) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/1133, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK .)  The Office of Tax Simplification was created in 2010 as a temporary, independent office of the Treasury and was tasked with advising the Chancellor on how to provide a simpler taxation system.  It was made permanent in July 2015, and the Finance Act 2016 serves to place it on a legislative basis and provide it with a legal framework in which it must operate.  (Office of Tax Simplification Framework Document, Her Majesty’s Treasury, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK (May 2016).)

The framework document of the Office of Tax Simplification provides that in conducting its statutory functions it will:

– identify complex areas with potential to be simplified, and consider options for reform;

– carry out its own research, collect and analyse relevant data and evidence from a wide variety of stakeholders and liaise with HMT and HMRC;

– engage in public consultation and encourage informed public debate; and

– seek to reduce compliance burdens on businesses and individual taxpayers.  (Office of Tax Simplification Framework Document, supra.)

Any findings from the Office of Tax Simplification must be published as a report that is to be sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and laid before Parliament.  The Chancellor of the Exchequer has a duty to publish a response to any report issued by the Office of Tax Simplification.  (Finance Act 2016, § 186.)