OTS Annual Report 2016-17 - KPMG United Kingdom
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OTS Annual Report 2016-17

OTS Annual Report 2016-17

The annual report reviews the work of the OTS in advising on simplifying the UK tax system.


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Following its statutory establishment in Finance Act 2016, the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has released its first annual report for 2016-17. The report, which also reflects on the time the OTS was constituted on an informal basis, takes a look at the work the OTS has carried out to date in recommending ways in which the UK’s tax system can be made more simple and easy for taxpayers and advisors, as well as looking ahead to future projects.

The report sets out the background behind the OTS’s creation, as well as how it operates, including:

  • Agreeing terms of reference with ministers/Government departments;
  • Talking to a wide range of stakeholders;
  • Gathering evidence, analysing data, and consulting;
  • Considering and discussing emerging conclusions with HMRC and HM Treasury on a ‘critical friend’ basis;
  • Publishing reports and recommendations; and
  • Understanding why recommendations are or are not taken forward, to feed into future work.

The report also notes that between 2010 and 2016, the OTS has carried out 14 major projects and produced around 40 reports and papers. These led to around 450 recommendations, over half of which have been accepted, with another quarter still under consideration. The report highlights some of its projects as follows:

The OTS’s first project reviewed a number of UK tax reliefs, paving the way for the abolition of over 40 and improvements to others. The review also highlighted the value of regular systematic review of UK tax exemptions and reliefs;

  • The OTS recommended that a cash basis for calculating tax, rather than accruals accounts, be introduced for the smallest businesses. This basis is now used by over a million small businesses, and aspects of it are being included in HMRC’s Making Tax Digital plans;
  • Making proposals that led to reforms to the P11D process, which included the introduction of a trivial benefits exemption and handling tax on benefits through payroll;
  • The abolition of Class 2 NICs; and
  • Streamlining reporting of share schemes and harmonising definitions and rules.

The report also looks at what the OTS plans to deliver in the next 12 months. The next year will see the OTS deliver its final report on VAT ahead of the Autumn Budget, as well as the final reports on the corporation tax computation and Stamp Duty on paper transactions expected in the summer. The OTS also plans to get involved with Making Tax Digital and the ongoing work on employment status and the gig economy, to ensure the effects of tax simplification are considered in these key projects.

The OTS has also published a separate report evaluating the progress that has been made in implementing some of its earlier recommendations as well as some learning points that arise from this. Annexes published beside the report provide an update of the status of a number of earlier recommendations.

For further information please contact:

Grace Havard

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