Policy paper

Guidance for taxpayers

The OTS is publishing today a report which sets out a strategic vision for the future of guidance for taxpayers and their advisers



In this report, the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) takes a strategic look at the general approach to providing guidance for taxpayers. Although guidance has featured in many previous OTS reports on particular parts of the tax system, this is the first time the OTS has devoted an entire report to this important area.

The report calls for HMRC to make transforming the user experience a sustained priority, building on its current programme of work in this area, giving greater emphasis to meeting the needs of taxpayers, making it easier for people to find the guidance they need and to be clearer what reliance they can place on it.

Angela Knight CBE, OTS Chairman said:

Good guidance plays a critcial role in making it easier to understand what you need to do in practice when dealing with the day to day administration of tax. Whether it is individuals or businesses - and especially small businesses - making the guidance simple and easy to comprehend should remain a high priority for HMRC and requires strong leadership.

Paul Morton, OTS Tax Director said:

In an ideal world there would be much less need for guidance as tax would be simple and intuitive. However, the reality is that tax is complex and confusing, and this strategic review complements the very positive work in progress within HMRC. The current body of HMRC guidance material covers over 90,000 webpages and includes a growing number of YouTube videos and interactive features. It is crucial that HMRC takes the opportunity to go further not least by deploying the latest in technology.

Paul Riley, Director of Process Design and Excellence at HMRC said:

I am grateful to the OTS for their work on guidance. HMRC is committed to providing first class guidance for our customers and, as the OTS acknowledge, we are already making good progress. I welcome the OTS report and their recommendations will help inform our future work and thinking.

Notes for Editors

The OTS is the independent adviser to government on tax simplification, challenging tax complexity to help all users of the tax system; it does not implement changes - these are a matter for government and for Parliament.

The OTS team is led by Chairman Angela Knight CBE and Tax Director Paul Morton and has a small staff drawn from HM Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs and the private sector.

The OTS works to improve the experience of all who interact with the tax system. It aims to reduce the administrative burden - which is what people encounter in practice - as well as simplifying the rules. Simplification of the technical and administrative aspects of tax are each important, both to taxpayers and HMRC.

Press Enquiries only please contact Graham Dickson, OTS Press Officer Phone: 03000 585028

Published 5 October 2018