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Tax Simplification

Volume 557: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2013

The Government are committed to simplifying the tax system. Since 2010, we have set up the Office of Tax Simplification and have acted on a range of its recommendations. The Government are improving tax administration for small businesses and, from April 2013, will introduce a new cash basis for calculating tax, benefiting up to 3 million small self-employed businesses.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the most effective way to simplify the tax system and to maximise tax yield is to reduce the burden of taxes through lower taxes?

It would be right to say that the Government have taken 2.2 million people out of income tax—that is certainly a simplification for them. We have reduced the small profits rate of corporation tax and reduced the main rate of corporation tax. We have taken steps, wherever possible, to reduce taxes.

Can the Minister reassure the House that these attempts at tax simplification will be more successful than last year’s attempts, which saw U-turns on caravans, pasties, charities and the oil and gas sectors? Can he reassure the House that these attempts will work a lot better this year?

I can remember one particular tax simplification from the last Government, which was the abolition of the 10p rate. I think we have a better record than that.

Following on from my hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel), who made her case well, given that the Exchequer benefited from the courageous decision to reduce the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p, may I encourage the Chancellor to go even further in the Budget and reduce the top rate of tax to 40p, in order to see more funds come into the Exchequer?

I will take that as a Budget representation. The point is that the 50p rate was not effective in raising revenue—my hon. Friend is absolutely right to make that point—and it was damaging to our competitiveness. There are better ways in which we can get more money from the wealthiest, and that is exactly what this Government have done.

Perhaps the Minister could explain how the changes in child benefit have simplified the tax process in this country.

A moment or so ago we heard lots of shouting about the 50p rate, yet the Labour party is the first to defend the idea that those very people should continue to receive benefits. Ensuring that child benefit is targeted best meant either looking at this on a household basis—which would have meant putting 8 million households into the tax credit system—or adopting the approach that we have chosen, but the Labour party is always there, ready to spend taxpayers’ money where—