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Tax Simplification

Volume 550: debated on Tuesday 11 September 2012

The Government are committed to simplifying the tax system. Since 2010 we have set up the Office of Tax Simplification and acted on a range of its recommendations. We have abolished 43 tax reliefs, and from April 2013 we will introduce a new cash basis for calculating tax, benefiting up to 3 million small self-employed businesses. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is also improving tax administration for small businesses, as set out in its publication at the time of the 2012 Budget.

I thank the Minister for that response. The 2020 Tax Commission found that UK tax administration costs were double those of Norway, triple those of Estonia, and almost five times higher than in Switzerland, so I welcome the Minister’s drive for simplification. What progress has been made on merging national insurance and income tax, and other areas affecting business, that could yield an estimated £5 billion each year for the British economy?

The Government are continuing to explore the potential of merging the operation of income tax and national insurance contributions. We also want to make the tax system as transparent as possible, and one of the steps we have taken is the introduction of personal tax statements that will make it clearer to taxpayers how much they are paying in both income tax and national insurance.

The Minister will be aware that his colleague the Chancellor presented the granny tax as a tax simplification in the Budget. Is the Minister confident that further measures of tax simplification will be more successful and less unpopular than the granny tax?

We believe that tax simplification is important. A simpler tax system makes it easier for taxpayers to see how much they are paying, easier for businesses to comply, and easier to tackle avoidance. It is something the Government believe in.