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Top accountancy firm believes tax system is too complex

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 27, 2014

By Olivier Vergnault, WMN Business Editor, Twitter: @OliVergnault

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One of Britain's fastest growing firms of accountants believes the UK tax system is far too complex, poorly designed, and badly managed.

Matthew Lee, managing partner of Westcountry-based Bishop Fleming and the UK Chairman of Kreston International said the tax system ought to be reformed, as advocated by a report from the powerful House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

He said: "The lack of transparency creates an abundance of opportunities for avoidance and evasion.

"With over 1,100 different tax breaks available, British tax law is open to abuse and is in urgent need of radical simplification. Finance Bills are now four to five-times longer than they were 50 years ago."

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A recent report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee revealed that the current regime costs the government over £100 billion every year in tax perks.

The report also argues that, in times of austerity, this money could be better used to create more jobs and growth.

The Committee noted the Government's promise to simplify the tax system with its creation of the Office for Tax Simplification.

Bishop Fleming has seconded the firm's technical tax director to serve on the Chancellor's Office of Tax Simplification, which has led to 43 tax breaks being abolished.

Mr Lee added: “That work has since been undermined by the creation of yet another 134 reliefs.

"There are now 1,128 different tax reliefs percolating through UK law.

“This complexity dilutes the positive effects that such reliefs are meant to create by increasing the compliance burden on taxpayers and businesses.”

Bishop Fleming has offices in Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay, Truro and Worcester.

Mr Lee added: “There's no escaping the fact that this continuing tax complexity is good news for accountancy firms, but common sense dictates that UK PLC desperately needs a radical reform and simplification of taxation.

"The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee was right: the time has come for a dramatic reduction in the complex web of our tax system - even if that means less work for accountants."

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2 comments

  • Free2opine  |  August 28 2014, 12:36PM

    Hear, hear. Far too many options that create loopholes. Of course, if it were simplified, the Tax office wouldn't have the means with which to say you had "fiddled" your returns, which then gives them the power to fine you!!!! Also, if it were made easier, they wouldn't require so many staff and that would go down like a lead balloon.

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  • Nikgee  |  August 27 2014, 2:33PM

    It's about time someone actually noticed. Most of the tax laws were created by Gordon Brown during the last Labour Government, he managed to make it so confusing that many tax advisers gave up as they couldn't understand what was going on anymore. And sadly since George Osbourne took over the reins very little has changed. Personally I believe it is a ploy for people to make mistakes and then they get fined for wrong information

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