The Canadian Minister of National Revenue, the Hon. Kerry-Lynne Findlay was in the UK this week for a series of meetings with UK Ministers and officials on a variety of tax issues. The OTS were very pleased to be included in the Minister’s schedule and we had a constructive meeting with the Minister and her officials.
The Minister was keen to understand what had led to the creation of the OTS, how we were constituted (the answer there being under the coalition agreement – so informally in many ways!) and how we operated – plus of course the lessons we had learned. We fed into the discussions our conclusions on the causes of complexity and the lessons for policymakers. We discussed issues such as how we selected our projects, how we reported them and how they were taken forward. Did we cover both technical and administrative matters? Very much so – and although in strictness policy is outside our remit, in practice it’s inevitable that we have to make policy suggestions but the driver is always simplification. They had a particular focus on lessons for small businesses – which has of course been a key area for the OTS.
Many will be aware that Canada is the one G7 country that is ahead of the UK in the World Bank Paying Taxes survey. We will be reporting on the lessons we have drawn from our researches in our forthcoming Competitiveness report but it’s clear from our discussions this week that Canada will not be resting on their laurels (or maple leafs).