Market leading insight for tax experts
View online issue

The Office of Tax Simplification needs ‘demonstrable independence’, says Tyrie

printer Mail

Andrew Tyrie, Treasury Committee chairman, has written an open letter to the chancellor endorsing the Conservative party manifesto commitment to put the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) on a permanent basis, despite his reservations about the creation of a quango.

He said: ‘The die is cast and if we are to have the OTS, it needs to be given a fighting chance of doing a good job … In a nutshell, the OTS needs demonstrable independence, a strong voice with the expectation of more visible leadership, and the ability to develop its work over a longer time period. This may sound expensive and to do all of this it may require a modest increase in resources. But much could perhaps be achieved by securing secondees from HMRC and from private sector firms.’

He believes the role of OTS ‘at the moment is limited to making recommendations for simplification of the tax system. It does not link the specific objective to any wider purpose.’

He said the Office for Budget Responsibility offered a useful model for the OTS, which had to have a statutory base, a clear line of accountability to parliament and a ‘double lock’ on the appointment and dismissal of the leader to entrench his or her independence.

Above all, he urged the government to guarantee its independence by setting it up in such a way that prevents it being seen as a business community lobby group, or becoming a think-thank of HMRC or the Treasury. The OTS should have a duty to report on the government’s programme in meeting its recommendations that would build on, and probably substitute for, the work of the Treasury committee, he added.