It took ten years to re-write the 1988 Income Tax Act (ICTA 1988), but was it all worthwhile? Ipsos MORI was asked by HMRC to conduct a survey.
Over its life the Tax Law Re-write Project (TLRP) created:
- Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act of 2003 - ITEPA 2003
- Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act of 2005 - ITTIOA 2005
- Income Tax Act 2007 - ITA 2007
According to the poll tax professionals had mixed feelings about the project, while the general public were largely unsure: they remain completely baffled by tax legislation.
Findings were inclined to show that the rewrite did not save anyone any time, even though reading might be slightly easier.
In general, tax professionals were most positive about the clearer structure of the rewritten legislation. However, tax lawyers were less positive about this because of the increased length of the legislation, which made their jobs more time-consuming.
The easier language was thought to be a benefit, particularly by tax trainers who felt it was possible for tax professionals to understand the rewritten legislation without legal training. There was consensus that the main benefits would be experienced by new tax professionals or those who are yet to enter the profession.
Whether professionals were positive or negative about the TLRP it was felt that the rewrite process had missed the opportunity to simplify. The problem being the inherent complexity, which is not related to language or structure but rather to the underlying concepts.
Consequently many professionals questioned whether the time and resources expended on this project were put to the best use.
Ipsos Mori: Review of rewitten tax legislation