Independent report

Office of Tax Simplification publishes 2017-18 Annual Report

Simplifying the tax system to make it easier for the taxpayer: the OTS stimulates wide debate, focusing on the quality of the user experience


OTS Annual Report 2017-18 (web)

OTS Annual Report 207-18 (print)

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The OTS is the independent adviser to government on tax simplification. Today it has published its second Annual Report, covering the year to 31 March 2018.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General, Mel Stride, said:

The Office of tax Simplification continues to make a valuable and increasingly visible contribution to the public debate around tax and how to make people’s experience of engaging with the system simpler. The government welcomes this and will continue to carefully consider its advice.

The OTS Chairman, Angela Knight CBE, said:

The OTS has continued to grow in confidence and the range of issues it has examined over the last year. This year our work has included the VAT threshold that affects small business, the business lifecycle and our current review of aspects of Inheritance Tax is hugely engaging the public. We are grateful to the Financial Secretary for his ongoing support.

The work of the OTS

The OTS represents the first sustained endeavour in the world to bring a systematic and thoroughly researched approach to advising government on tax simplifcation.

It is in a unique position to highlight issues, stimulate debate and act as a catalyst for positive change, as it is strongly connected with government, has exceptionally wide access to deep expertise outside government and speaks with an independent voice.

During 2017-18

  • the OTS has looked at the operation of the business VAT registration threshold, noting that it currently acts as a cliff edge which can deter some businesses from growing. Following the OTS’s report in November 2017 the Chancellor launched a full consultation at the Spring Statement

  • with productivity being a key government concern, the OTS has reviewed the impact of various features of the tax system in its business lifecycle review, both recommending changes and paving the way for further in depth reviews

  • the OTS has begun a major review of Inheritance Tax and has already received more than 3,000 responses from the public to an online survey, plus over 100 responses from the tax community to its Call for Evidence

Looking ahead

The OTS has a full ongoing work programme, including

  • the ongoing review of Inheritance Tax, on which it intends to report in the Autumn

  • a project on HMRC guidance, also to report in the Autumn

  • further work to develop and expand on key areas highlighted in the business lifecyce review

  • personal tax issues

  • ongoing consideration of the role and impact of technological changes

Notes for editors

The OTS is the independent adviser to government on simplifying the UK tax system, to make it easier for the taxpayer; it does not implement changes - these are a matter for government and for Parliament.

The OTS is led by Chairman Angela Knight CBE and Tax Director Paul Morton and has a small staff team drawn from HM Treasury, HMRC 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 looking to simplify rules, as simplification of the technical and administrative aspects of tax are each important, both to taxpayers and to HMRC.

The OTS was initially formed in 2010 and put on a statutory footing in 2016.

Since its formation in 2010, the OTS has made 534 recommendations, with over half accepted, being pursued or under active consideration.

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

Published 23 July 2018