The Chancellor, George Osborne, has signalled his intention to reform Britain's over-complex tax system with the creation of a new panel of experts charged with making the regime less complex.
The new Office for Tax Simplification (OTS) will write two reports for the chancellor; one on tax reliefs in the autumn and one on business taxes before next spring's budget.
John Whiting, a former tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Michael Jack, financial secretary to the Treasury in John Major's government, will form an unpaid two-person board with a remit to make the tax system simpler for individuals and firms. "HM Revenue & Customs are doing some initial work on [IR35], but our target is to come up with recommendations in time for the Budget next year," he said.
Mr Osborne is keen to pay for tax cuts by removing tax reliefs but is also convinced that the doubling of the UK tax code to 11,000 pages under Labour added to business costs and affected Britain's attractiveness to global companies. The Treasury said that there were about 400 tax reliefs for the OTS to study. "The previous government made up tax policy on the hoof. They set up a new tax, which had to be corrected. Then there were avoidance issues," a Treasury source said.