29 March 2023
Harriett Baldwin questions Government on abolition of Office for Tax Simplification

Speaking in a debate on the Finance (No.2) Bill, Harriett Baldwin welcomes many aspects of the Bill, but question the Government on the abolition of the Office for Tax Simplification and ask how the Treasury Committee can hold the Government accountable for continuing to simplify the tax system.

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con)

Many measures in the Bill will be warmly welcomed by businesses and households in West Worcestershire. However, clause 346 abolishes the Office for Tax Simplification. I do not think that anyone would say that the tax system is simpler than it was when the OTS was established. Could the Minister outline how we on the Treasury Committee can hold her accountable for continuing to simplify our tax system?

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Victoria Atkins)

I thank my hon. Friend the work that she and her Committee have done on the issue of simplification. The Committee had a very productive session with the soon to be former members of the office. What we want to do, which I will expand on a little later, is to put simplification at the heart of policymaking. So I have set my officials three objectives: making tax fairer, simpler and supportive of growth; and, for every single decision that we make, having explanations of how we will meet those three objectives. But we must acknowledge that, sometimes, there is a tension between the wish to make tax fairer and the wish to make tax simpler. The taper rate that I just described is an example of that. I appreciate that, for businesses with profits between £50,000 and £250,000 profits, their accountants will have to work out which tapering rate is available to them. But we do that precisely because we want to be fair to those businesses. I will expand on the important point that she raised later in my speech.