The OTS team has seen a few changes over the past couple of months. Martin Gunson and Kelly Sizer have now completed their work on pensioner taxation, whilst Sarah Anderson and Tony Page have finished with employee share schemes. A big thank you to all four of them for their effort and dedication in producing their respective reviews.
In their place we have recruited a new team of Theresa Dendy, Tracey Bowler and Suzy Giele to work on our review of employee benefits and expenses. They will be joined by Michael Wilson later in the summer.
Morwenna Scott has also joined the OTS to work on our tax definitions project. She will work Caroline Turnbull-Hall who returns as a formal secondee having previously worked on our tax reliefs review and the disincorporation relief project.
A new biographies section on our ‘About the OTS’ page has further details on all of our secondees.
The title of this post has become the unofficial OTS motto. In the past we have been as far west as Toronto (see previous post) – Belfast in person – as far North as Aberdeen, South to Exeter, East to Norwich and most places in between. It is now that time of year again and we are looking forward to getting out and about to hear the views of businesses, individual taxpayers, advisers and HMRC alike.
Our review of employee benefits and expenses is now in full swing – we have a team of secondees in place and are starting to plan meetings with interested parties across the UK. This is (hopefully) where you come in.
If you have an interest in the review and would like to feed input into it please contact us at the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org We welcome any comments you can make or we will be happy to travel to meet you – especially a local group of businesses or other interested parties – or welcome you to our offices in central London.
Please note that we only have a small team and whilst we will try to get around as many groups as possible we can’t commit to meet everyone.
The OTS is now tolerably well established in the UK. We have tried to keep an eye open for similar initiatives in other countries and develop links where possible. Canada had not featured on the OTS’s map until an approach came for Jeremy Sherwood to speak at a conference on Tax Simplification being organised by the Canadian Certified General Accountants in Toronto. Jeremy was prepared to make the sacrifice and visit Canada, but I played the heartless boss and suggested that a transatlantic trip for an hour’s session didn’t seem that efficient.
Could we perhaps participate in the conference via videoconference? The conference organisers thought that would work – and indeed it would add a real ‘extra’ to the programme. So Jeremy and I put some slides together, sent them off for printing out and found ourselves in one of the video rooms in 1 Horse Guards Road at 5pm one dark December day ready to speak to an attentive group in Toronto.
We spent 20 minutes or so talking through who we are, what we do and how we go about our work. We outlined the projects we had undertaken and were still working on and gave a flavour of the findings and actions that had resulted. The 60+ strong audience seemed to be paying careful attention (we had a good view, slightly oddly from the back of the room) and all seemed to go along well. Any jokes did take time to get a reaction – videoconferencing that far isn’t quite instant!
Questions were then invited and we had a succession of good points to discuss. One particularly interesting thread was the issue of our constitution – who did we report to? (Our reports go to the Chancellor.) Did we have a formal constitution from the government? (No – we are in effect set up through the Coalition agreement but that is not laid down by statute.) What happens if our reports are not taken up? (We naturally hope our reports make sufficient sense for them to be obvious candidates for progress – though we would never expect everything we recommend to be taken up automatically; consultation on anything significant is always going to be needed for a start.)
Overall, this was a constructive (and practical) way to spread the word about simplification. Whether Canada starts work on a simplification project remains to be seen – we sensed there was good support for such an initiative in the conference. If that does go ahead, Jeremy may yet get his transatlantic trip!
The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has been in existence for over two years now and in that time, led by our Chairman Rt Hon Michael Jack and Tax Director John Whiting, we have had a real impact in simplifying the tax system for taxpayers and for HMRC. From small business tax reform to abolishing tax reliefs the OTS has advised the Chancellor on a wide variety of taxes. Our ongoing projects focus on pensioner taxation and employee share schemes; the final reports will be published in early 2013.
In conducting our reviews, the OTS seeks the views of taxpayers, businesses and advisers; as well as government departments such as HM Revenue & Customs, HM Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions. This blog is a chance for the OTS to interact with all taxpayers on an ongoing basis. We will blog on our current projects, simplification in general and news coming out of the Office.
We hope you will take the time to read and comment on our blog and the work of the OTS.