Office of Tax Simplification: Annual Report 2016-17

30 June 2017


The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), the independent adviser to government on simplifying the UK tax system, publishes its first annual report.


The report, a feature of its new statutory footing, also covers the period since it was set up on an informal basis in July 2010 and looks forward to the full and challenging agenda ahead.


On the publication of the OTS’s annual report, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General, Mel Stride, said:

“The Office of Tax Simplification makes a valuable contribution to the public debate around tax, supporting the creation of a simpler tax code and challenging the government to deliver it. To date we have implemented over 200 of the OTS’s recommendations and will continue to carefully consider its advice.”


The report includes a number of areas of work that will be completed over the next year, such as the final reports on VAT, Corporation Tax Computation and on “paper” Stamp Duty.

The report also says that the OTS will continue to engage with stakeholders on Making Tax Digital and there is likely to be ongoing work on employment status and the Gig economy.

Within the one to three year time horizon, the report states that other areas for consideration include savings and tax reliefs.


The OTS say that their longer term work programme will continue to evolve and develop and that the challenges of the digital economy and how new technology might be harnessed to simplify the experience of using the tax system, will certainly feature.


The work of the OTS

To date the OTS has made over 450 recommendations, with over half accepted and another quarter remaining under consideration, improving the user experience of millions of UK tax payers. It has built up a strong reputation with individuals, businesses and professional advisers as well as within government.

The OTS provides:

  • reports offering practical recommendations (such as a cash basis for calculating the tax for the smallest unincorporated businesses)

  • analysis that shines a light on challenging structural issues (such as its reports on where the key hurdles and costs lie in the options for aligning income tax and national insurance contributions)

  • insight into wider changes in the economy (such its focus paper on the Gig economy)

  • an important conduit into government to raise tax complexity issues.


The OTS is in unique position to highlight issues, stimulate debate and act as a catalyst for positive change, being strongly connected within government, having exceptionally wide access to a range of deep expertise from outside government and speaking with an independent voice.

The OTS has developed ground breaking ideas on complexity, put forward ideas that have beneficially affected millions of taxpayers, brought a range of difficult areas into the open for debate and emphasised the importance of simplification being integral to tax policy thinking.