The Office of Tax Simplification was established on 20 July 2010 as an independent adviser to the Chancellor, providing advice on the simplification of the tax system. Finance Act 2016 placed the OTS on a statutory basis and set the requirement for HM Treasury to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the OTS every five years, with the first period ending 28 November 2021.

The review concluded that the need for the OTS’s statutory function to advise the Chancellor on simplification of the tax system remains undiminished. The review also sets out a number of recommendations to maximise the impact of the OTS as it continues to mature as an organisation over the next five-year period and beyond, including that the OTS:

  • Expose their reasoning behind their recommendations, particularly where there are trade-offs between simplification and other policy objectives that government must consider;
  • More clearly prioritise those recommendations which the OTS considers of most value to taxpayers;
  • Maintain and expand the breadth and balance of knowledge, experience and expertise within the Secretariat, while also seeking professional expertise in how it consults externally;
  • Consider the volume and type of output it produces, and focuses more on activities that build its preliminary evidence base and embed its work; and,
  • Clarifies its aims and objectives in light of its articulation of how it interprets ‘tax simplification’, using this to inform which areas it will prioritise over the next five- year period to maximise its impact.

HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs will enable and support the OTS to take forward these recommendations, including by pursuing an amendment to legislation to allow for the appointment of two additional board members.

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