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‘Citizens Jury’ calls for the tax system to be simpler and clearer

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‘Citizens Jury’ calls for the tax system to be simpler and clearer  Duncan Mitchell-Innes

A “citizens’ jury”, set up by consultancy Britain Think for accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has called for far greater simplicity and transparency in the tax system.

The jury was said to be broadly representative of the nation’s demographics in relation to age, gender, social class and ethnicity. It consisted of 22 members, drawn from across the UK.

Among their proposals were the abolition of inheritance tax and new higher council tax bands on high-value properties.

The panel also called for the Government to integrate income tax with national insurance, viewing the current distinction as “misleading” in that personal allowances are not really free of tax. Recently George Osborne has indicated that this move is in fact high on the Government’s agenda.

Members said they would increase personal allowances as opposed to reducing the basic rate of income tax but also wanted to widen the scope of so-called “sin taxes” to include unhealthy foods.

The jury’s other proposals included:

• A shake up of VAT, with all essentials made VAT-free but a 20 per cent rate for everything else;

• a tax on major gambling pay outs – including lottery wins; and

• a new independent advisory body to reduce the influence of “political short-termism”.

There was also an expressed frustration about the perceived lack of transparency over how tax is raised and then put to work by the Government.

Citizens’ juries take the form of a mix of presentations, plenary sessions, open debates and other activities. They are been used to understand the views that members of the public form after being given the opportunity and information to consider an issue in depth.

The desire for simplicity and transparency in the tax system is certainly one that is shared by many in the UK. However, pending this being delivered, we can assist in guiding you though your tax compliance and planning requirements.

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