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One minute with... David Jordorson

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How did you get into tax?

I took the Civil Service entry exams following a brief spell in local government after university. I was assigned to Customs & Excise, a rather different place then, but in many ways as short of resource as now. In that era, most VAT people started there – sometimes for rather quixotic reasons!

Aside from your immediate colleagues, whom in tax do you most admire?

It’s difficult to single out an individual for either technical expertise or commitment, but my friend Peter Mason (Rosetta Tax) has done some very interesting things during his career; and Michael Conlon QC (Hogan Lovells) has a strong record of achievement across the board.

What advice would you give to someone new to the profession?

I would advise someone joining the profession to seek to contribute to, and take advantage of, the excellent associations and groups which promote better technical and professional standards, whether the CIOT or the VAT Practitioners Group. However smart you are, there is always someone to learn from, and this industry is full of intelligent and helpful people.

You’ve just been appointed tax policy adviser at the Association of British Insurers. What’s the main tax issue facing the industry?

Implementing workable global mechanisms to give effect to tax transparency is a key challenge for our members, as well as other financial institutions.

And the new pension freedoms provide a challenge to the industry as the public starts to act on the choices now available – awareness of tax consequences needs to go hand in hand with awareness of the opportunities.

We can expect further widespread change as future governments adapt policy to the evolving demands of society, but tax will remain high on the agenda as financial pressures remain.

You have previously worked in-house as a VAT specialist. Comment on a key challenge you faced in practice.

When you have multi-jurisdictional responsibilities, it’s important to have visibility of every stage of your tax compliance and the processes that underpin it. Also, invest the time to ensure buy-in of colleagues with differing perspectives for the implementation of business critical processes.

What caught your eye in the latest Finance Act?

It wasn’t a big news event, but I think the statutory instrument amending the regulations in respect of VAT deductions relating to foreign branches is going to have a wider and more complicated impact than has been envisaged.

How would you simplify tax administration?

The VAT zero rates on food, clothing and printed matter are needlessly complex reliefs imposed by the UK, not the EU, which throw up market distortions, baffle the public and frustrate businesses. Any benefits are obscure, random and more concerned with potential headlines than reality – good intentions, but bad policy. Remove them and use the money to provide better support to those originally intended to benefit.

Finally, you might not know this about me but …

Thanks to childhood indoctrination, I have an involuntary but encyclopedic recall of old Hollywood musicals and show tunes.

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