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One minute with... Caroline Turnbull-Hall

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

My main focus is currently Brexit, and is likely to remain so for some time. Legally it’s fascinating, and I’m focusing on some of the draft statutory instruments from government, although not yet any relating to tax. The impact of the UK leaving the EU is huge, and it will affect firms and their clients in many different areas, with the big issues in tax being indirect tax and customs duties. There is a vast amount of work to be done, including the statutory instruments and primary legislation to ensure that systems operate properly once the UK leaves the EU. The clock is ticking, and it is important to engage with government departments to ensure that the required secondary legislation is fit for purpose and does not require business changes.

If you could make one change to a tax law or practice, what would it be?

Having spent some time on secondment to the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), genuine simplification of the UK’s tax legislation would be very welcome. However, whilst there are various models for simpler, more streamlined tax systems with less legislation, wholescale simplification of the UK’s well established and complex tax regime is not likely to be achievable. It is hoped that the government will continue to act on the recommendations for simplification from the OTS, and I am looking forward to seeing the suggestions in due course for inheritance tax.

Are there any new or draft rules that are causing a particular problem?

The new EU rules for intermediaries – possibly one of the last tax-related pieces of EU legislation that the UK will implement as a member of the EU. Whilst based on DOTAS, the model has not sought to correct some of the deficiencies in the DOTAS legislation, and the provisions are very widely drawn. The fact that it is based on DOTAS illustrates the important role that the UK’s rules have played in influencing EU rules, and it will be interesting to see whether this influence will continue post Brexit.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

The huge and varied opportunities that tax offers in terms of a career. On qualification, I moved from audit into corporate tax, before focusing on delivering tax training to clients and then moving into tax policy, which led to a focus on regulatory law and Brexit. It’s not a career journey that I could have planned, but one that has always offered interesting challenges.

Is there a recent tax case which has caught your eye?

Barker v Baxendale Walker Solicitors (a firm) and others [2017] EWCA Civ 2056 – whilst the technical issue in the case concerns employee benefit trusts, the case has relevance to all tax advisers. It gives a warning to all advisers involved in planning that it is not sufficient simply to construe legislation correctly, as the failure to warn a client of the risks attaching to planning may be a breach of duty.

Who do you admire most in tax?

John Whiting, who laid the foundations of my tax knowledge when he ran internal tax training in PW (as it was then). I was later fortunate to work very closely with John at PwC, and also at the OTS. John has wide ranging tax experience, and the enviable ability to explain things clearly and simply. Also, the late and much missed John Tiley, whose boundless enthusiasm for all tax and legal matters was infectious, and who was always generous with his time. A half hour conversation with John would always be peppered with legal references and interesting insights.

And finally, you might not know this about me but…

I collect cookery books and have well over 2,500, including a number of Victorian ones. I do cook from them, but also read them for pleasure, and would love one day to start a food blog based around some of the more arcane volumes, for example ‘Liberace cooks!’ 

Issue: 1400
Categories: One minute with