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Should voters have more say in tax legislation?

Should voters have more say in tax legislation?

Accountants will be interested to hear that David Gauke recently said what they have known along – politicians struggle to understand tax law!

The exchequer secretary to the Treasury made his comment to delegates attending a conference about tax policy-making at the Said Business School in Oxford. He was rather put on the spot when he was asked whether MPs fulfilled their role in formulating tax legislation after experts found that professional tax experts should be providing parliamentarians with more support.

Mr Gauke explained that MPs could cope with income tax, but once you get into technical areas, including the majority of the Finance Act, they rely on external bodies such as the CIOT, ICAEW and PwC. Considering our MPs come from a diverse range of backgrounds, that is hardly surprising.

Gauke also commented on confidentiality in tax, saying he thought companies should explain their tax policies and associated figures if they are in the public domain.

Christopher Peter Wales and Christopher John Wales, two experts at the Said Business School, presented a report showing that the government should take more time to consult with the electorate when it formulated tax policy. The report took three months to research and included interviews with treasury and tax advisors in 10 countries including Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the UK. It also recommended that external academics should review significant changes to tax policy to challenge whether they would meet their objectives and be of value.

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Image: Have your say by RambergMediaImages

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