Belfast Telegraph

New office to make tax more simple

Chancellor George Osborne is set to signal his intention to trim back Britain's complicated tax system by creating a new Office for Tax Simplification.

The OTS will have the task of making the 11,000-page tax code both shorter and simpler for individuals and companies to negotiate.

It is understood that it will also be asked to study around 400 tax reliefs to see how many can be removed, both to simplify the system and fund tax cuts elsewhere.

Michael Jack, who served as financial secretary to the Treasury in John Major's government, and John Whiting, a former tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers are to be appointed as an unpaid two-man board, based in the Treasury.

They will be able to draw on expert advice from tax lawyers and consultants and support from Treasury officials.

The OTS will write two reports for the Chancellor within the next year - on tax reliefs this autumn and on business taxes ahead of the spring 2011 Budget.

A Treasury source told The Guardian that Labour's doubling of the length of the tax code had added to business costs and damaged Britain's attractiveness to global companies.

"The previous government made up tax policy on the hoof. They set up a new tax, which had to be corrected," said the source.