UK tax system rubbished by top accountant

CRITIC: Matthew Lee, managing partner of Bishop Fleming

CRITIC: Matthew Lee, managing partner of Bishop Fleming

First published in Business by

THE UK tax system is far too complex, poorly designed and badly managed, according to the head of a Worcester firm of accountants.

Matthew Lee, managing partner of Bishop Fleming, which has an office in College Yard and a network of others across the south west, Worcester, said: "Its lack of transparency creates an abundance of opportunities for avoidance and evasion. With more than 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."

A recent report from the House of Commons public accounts committee revealed the current regime costs the government more than £100 billion every year in tax perks.and argued 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 and Bishop Fleming 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.

However, Mr Lee, who is also UK Chairman of Kreston International, added: "But 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. 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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