Press release

UK’s tax system has over 1000 reliefs

There are over 1000 reliefs in the UK’s tax system the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has revealed today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


There are over 1000 reliefs in the UK’s tax system the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has revealed today.

As part of the important work in reviewing Britain’s tax system, the OTS has published the first ever comprehensive list of the UK’s tax reliefs and allowances on its website, and is now inviting comments and views from those who use them.

The 1042 reliefs demonstrate the challenge facing the OTS, which has also today published details of the review criteria and methodology which will be used to evaluate the effectiveness and relevance of the reliefs, before reporting back later in the year.

John Whiting, Tax Director for the Office of Tax Simplification said:

I am sure some people will be surprised by the sheer number of reliefs in today’s tax system. Many have a clear and highly valued benefit so clearly we would not seek to change those.  Others, however, may simply no longer be used, or are too complex and burdensome to be properly effective, so it is these that I want my team to focus on.

The OTS team, which includes secondees from a variety of tax and accountancy firms, will use the review criteria, together with their experience and expertise, to provide independent advice on the reliefs, and make recommendations to the Chancellor on ways to simplify the tax system. 

Also published today are details of the two Consultative Committees, one for the reliefs project and one for the parallel small business tax review. The committees involve over 30 people, drawn from a wide variety of tax, law, business and accountancy firms, who will give views, input and support on the OTS’s work as its recommendations are developed. 

Notes to Editors

  1. The independent Office of Tax Simplification was established on 20 July 2010 to carry out reviews in order to provide expert advice to the Chancellor on options to improve and simplify the UK’s tax system.

  2. The OTS started its work in September. It will initially take forward two reviews: simplifying tax reliefs and small business taxation. It will report to the Chancellor in advance of Budget 2011.

  3. There are 1042 tax reliefs in the UK tax system. View a full list of tax reliefs, along with the review criteria.

  4. The OTS team is led by Chairman Rt Hon Michael Jack, and Tax Director John Whiting and has a staff of 7, drawn from HM Treasury, HM Revenue & Customs and secondees from a broad range of private firms. 

  5. In addition, two ‘Consultative Committees’ have been set up to work with the team to review suggestions and feed in views.  Details are available on the OTS website.

  6. The OTS can be contacted at:

Issued by Office of Tax Simplification Press Office
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Phone:  020 7270 6190 / 07917 598392

Published 8 November 2010