About the OTS

The Chancellor and Exchequer Secretary launched the Office of Tax Simplification on 20 July 2010 to provide the Government with independent advice on simplifying the UK tax system. The Office was set up as an independent Office of the Treasury until the end of the Parliament; following the May 2015 election, the government announced that the OTS will be made permanent and will be put on a statutory basis in Finance Bill 2016, continuing as an independent office of the Treasury.

The Office draws together expertise from across the tax and legal professions, the business community and other interested parties.

The Office is led by a Chair and Tax Director, under the overall control of the OTS Board. They are supported by a small secretariat including tax experts from HM Revenue & Customs and HM Treasury as well as external secondees from the tax and legal professions.

Office of Tax Simplification home page

What we do

The Office has been set up to provide advice to the Chancellor on simplifying the UK tax system, with the objective of reducing compliance burdens on both businesses and individual taxpayers. Full details about the Office are set out in its framework document.

Office of Tax Simplification framework document

Biographies

Angela Knight CBE – Chair

Angela Knight is just setting out on her fourth career as a non-executive director.

She is currently the senior independent director on the on the Boards of Brewin Dolphin plc and Tullett Prebon Plc, is a member of the board of Transport for London and an advisor to PARC and Oxera. Angela is also an Associate at Goodacre UK and the Vice President at the Securities Industry Management Association.

Until the end of 2014, she was chief executive of the energy industry trade body Energy UK. Prior to that she was the Chief Executive of the British Bankers’ Association which she joined from the Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers (now the Wealth Management Association), where she had been the CEO since the autumn of 1997. During this period, Angela also served as a non-executive director on a number of plc boards.

Before running trade associations, Angela was MP for Erewash from 1992 – 1997, and during that time was a Treasury Minister after being Parliamentary Private Secretary to both the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to Industry Minister Sir Tim Sainsbury MP.

Angela has a degree in Chemistry from Bristol University and first worked at the industrial gas company Air Products as only the second ever female graduate. After that she jointly set up and ran the heavy engineering company Cook & Knight Ltd in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

She was honoured with a CBE for services to the financial services industry in 2007.

Paul Morton – Tax Director

Paul Morton was appointed Tax Director of the Office of Tax Simplification on 1st March 2017.  Prior to that he was Tax Director for RELX Group plc (formerly Reed Elsevier), the global information and analytics group, for twelve years. He was actively engaged with the OECD and tax policy makers in the UK, US and the Netherlands and at EU level on tax policy matters relating to the digital economy and many other aspects of tax policy.

Previously, he was a tax manager and adviser at Royal Dutch Shell in a number of UK and overseas roles over a period of 16 years.  He moved to Shell from KPMG where he focussed on international tax and insurance companies.  He began his career in tax, after reading Microbiology at University College London, when he joined the Inland Revenue as a tax inspector.

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, a member of the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Tax Law Review Committee, an adviser to the International Chamber of Commerce Taxation Commission, a member of the Executive Committee of the International Fiscal Association and a past President of the Confederation Fiscale Europeenne.

David Halsey – Head of Office

David joined the OTS in January 2016, on loan from HMRC.

After completing a PhD in Fluid Engineering, David joined the Inland Revenue in 1986 and trained as an Inspector of Taxes in the local office in Luton, and then had a number of compliance and policy roles concerning Lloyd’s of London, financial markets and Stamp Taxes, before becoming a Case Director in the Large Business Office in 2000 (mainly in the retail sector).

In 2003 he moved to head up the team in Tax Law Rewrite completing the rewrite of income tax (in ITA 2007), then moving to lead HMRC’s policy work on the 2009 reforms to the appeals, review and tribunals system across all HMRC taxes. Most recently he has spent 6 years as a Customer Relationship Manager and Assistant Director in Large Business, again working across a range of taxes, mainly in the insurance sector.

Angela Brown

Angela joined a local office of the Inland Revenue in 1991 as a Tax Assistant, and completed technical training as a Tax Inspector in 2003. After a spell in the Large Business Service in the telecoms sector, she joined the Business Customer Unit where she project managed delivery of the Varney Review of Links with Large Business. A stint in the Anti-Avoidance team reviewing the DOTAS rules was followed by a role in the Central Strategy team, putting the customer at the heart of business design and delivery. Most recently Angela was the HMRC Policy lead for PAYE and Self Assessment, including RTI, developing policy solutions that would improve service to customers and in particular working on the transformation of HMRC’s approach to customer complaints.

Aaron Yamoah

Aaron Yamoah joined the OTS having spent four years at HM Treasury. Initially as a spending principle overseeing the Office of Fair Trading budget and leading on competition policy, before taking on a central strategy role providing strategic advice to the executive management board. Aaron later held a central role in the Treasury’s election strategy unit and lead on the personnel work stream of Treasury’s Spending Review 2015 negotiations.

Prior to joining HM Treasury, Aaron worked in policy development for The Young Foundation and as an advisor in an MP’s office.

Aaron holds a BA (hons) in Economics and Actuarial Science from the University of Southampton.

Andy Richens ATII

Andy Richens is Technical Tax Director at Bishop Fleming Accountants, based in the South West, keeping partners, managers and staff members up to date on changes to tax legislation and practice, and presenting external workshops and presentations to clients and contacts on topical areas in the tax system.

The Administration Review of the Competitiveness of the UK Tax System is Andy’s second period of secondment to the OTS, having been a member of the Small Business Review in 2011/12.

Andy is also a regular speaker on the professional conference circuit, and is a contributor to Simon’s Direct Taxes. He has also recently joined the Tax Professionals Forum, helping advise on improvements in development of tax policy. Andy’s tax career started in HMRC, including a spell as a tutor at their London Training Centre, before moving on to training consultancy, including  roles with Ernst & Young, KPMG and Clerical Medical.

Marian Drew

Marian was Head of Tax at Heathrow Airport (previously BAA plc) for many years, responsible for UK and international taxes arising from ongoing commercial activity, acquisitions and disposals, including employment taxation and duty free trading.

Rebecca Seeley Harris LLB (Hons) LLM Msc

Rebecca set up her legal consultancy when the Inland Revenue brought in the IR35 tax initiative nearly 16 years ago. Since then Rebecca has specialised in the employment and tax status of the non-permanent workforce. Working with clients nationally and internationally, Rebecca advises on business structures, statutory compliance and contractual documentation, amongst other things. Rebecca also works with representative groups, such as the British University Finance Directors Group and lectured at the London School of Economics on tax law.

Rebecca was seconded to the OTS as a policy adviser on the Employment Status Review which was published in March 2015. Rebecca has again been seconded to assist the OTS as a policy advisor on the review of Small Companies Taxation.

Chris Burns

Chris joined OTS in June 2016 as a part-time (2 days a week) Policy Adviser, working primarily on the Corporation Tax Simplification Project.

Chris began his working career with what was then the Inland Revenue. After 6 years, during which he became a fully trained Inspector of Taxes, Chris joined Deloitte , Haskins & Sells where he became a tax partner in 1992 with what became PwC. Among his roles in five different offices of the firm, Chris was the partner in charge of the PwC Corporation Tax Compliance Centre from 2001 to 2005. His last role with the firm was as Senior Tax Partner in the East Midlands office. He left the firm in 2009.

Since then, Chris has built his own tax consultancy business, been a non-executive director on an NHS Trust, continues to manage his property lettings business, sits on the Court of Bristol University and advises the Chartered Institute of Taxation.

His hobbies include learning Spanish, playing tennis, literature, opera and heritage.

Gary Deans

Gary joined Ernst & Whinney’s tax department in 1983 and subsequently worked with Arthur Young, Ernst & Young and Grant Thornton.

Gary was a partner at KPMG for fourteen years, and was until leaving in August 2016 Head of Family Business in the UK. This role focused on the development of KPMG’s service propositions and team development. Gary also worked closely with a number of family businesses, in particular through KPMG’s partnership with the Institute for Family Business and European Family Business (EFB) including leading research into the effect of worldwide tax policies on succession planning.

Gary is a member of the Oxfam Scotland Advisory Board, and the advisory board of the Institute for Family Business.

Daphna Jowell

Daphna joined the OTS in September 2016. Prior to that, she spent 4 years working in the UK corporate tax team at General Electric and 10 years with Slaughter and May, where she specialised in UK corporate tax.

Nigel Mellor

Nigel is a former Deloitte Tax partner who has specialised in international VAT for over 30 years. In 2001 he moved to Singapore where he led the Asia Pacific Region for indirect tax and 2008 he moved to New York where he led the US VAT team. He has extensive experience in advising businesses and governments in the 150 plus countries which have a VAT system.

Nigel joined the OTS in October 2016 and he is currently a Policy Advisor on VAT simplification.

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10 thoughts on “About the OTS

  1. William Cook

    The OTS has performed some excellent work since its creation in 2010, but it appears it may have overlooked an important inconsistency in the current income tax regime, namely the tapered removal of the personal allowance for high earners. This rule has the convoluted and adverse impact of raising the marginal rate of income tax for high earners to 60%, before then reducing back to 45% for very high earners.

    In 2013 George Osborne put forward policy to create a “simpler, fairer tax system that supports those on low and middle incomes while making sure that those who can best afford it make a fair contribution”. I support this mission – it is right that the marginal rate of income tax should increase as overall income increases. Unfortunately though, it seems that George Osborn has failed, as the tapering of personal allowance fundamentally breaks down the progressivity of income tax.

    I would be very interested to hear the OTS’s thoughts on this issue before it is sadly disbanded at the end of the current Parliament.

    Reply
  2. officeoftaxsimplificationblog Post author

    The OTS did note in a previous report that the withdrawal of the personal allowance on incomes above £100,000 does add complexity to personal tax returns but you will appreciate that its position in the tax system is a policy matter which is outside our remit. You may also have seen Paul Johnson’s, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, paper on this and related matters http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/7203

    Thank you for your wider comments on the OTS; although our mandate does indeed come to an end with the next election, we naturally hope the incoming government will decide to continue with the OTS though it may well be that it will be in a different form.

    Reply
  3. Nick Crane

    Congratulations on the reinstatement of the OTS. Might I suggest a simplifications to the PAYE payment process?

    Please ask HMRC to introduce a facility to pay PAYE by automated direct debit (DD) based upon figures submitted in the FPS (like VAT DD based on box 5 of VAT return). The current DD facility requires the figure to be manually entered on the HMRC portal and offers little advantage over payment via internet banking. An automated DD option would greatly simplify payment and improve efficiency of tax collection.

    Reply
  4. Francis Watts

    While the Gift Aid scheme is admirable, it does demand much bureaucracy for HMRC, eligible bodies and individuals. Might it be possible to introduce a composite rate (as in the past days of building societies) for repayment related to similar eligible income (as today) for all eligible bodies, leaving Higher Rate taxpayers the only people who would have to bear some formality to recover the tax repayment/offset to which they would remain entitled? The bureaucratic saving would seem considerable.
    A F P Watts (Mr)

    Reply
    1. officeoftaxsimplificationblog Post author

      The idea of a composite rate for repayment of tax under gift aid is an interesting one. It is a route that the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) suggested when responding to consultations about simplifying gift aid a few years ago. Various changes were introduced, including the small cash gifts procedure, but the composite rate route – which CIOT acknowledged did raise a number of issues – was not pursued.

      A number of people have suggested that gift aid would be a useful area for the OTS to look at but it is not currently on our agenda. It is something that is on our long list of topics so it is possible we will look at it in the future, possibly as a wider study on how the tax system affects charities.

      Reply
  5. Charlotte Milligan

    I’m interested in what HMRC intends to do so “ensure the availability of free apps and software that link securely to HMRC systems and provide support to those who need help using digital technology. Getting information from HMRC is not easy.

    Reply
    1. officeoftaxsimplificationblog Post author

      Your comment is more for HMRC than the OTS but the availability of free apps and software to help taxpayers comply with their responsibilities is something we have commented on in the past and will no doubt do so again. You’ll appreciate that our focus is simplification, and simple procedures with suitable support is part of that.

      Reply

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