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Tax and Complexity – closing remarks

It is now accepted wisdom that societies are becoming more unequal. Fewer people at the top are holding more and more of the wealth, while those at the bottom struggle to make a living with a reducing number of supports which were available in the past. For example, secure employment, final salary pension schemes, affordable housing, a functioning NHS etc etc. Complexity must be playing a part. Only governments and huge businesses really have the resources to profit from the opportunities of digitalization. What may emerge is a kind of deal between governments and the Googles and Amazons by which the latter agree to increase their tax contributions in return for being left alone to capitalize on their semi-monopoly positions.

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Simplifying Inheritance Tax – where do you start?

Simplifying Inheritance Tax where do you start

Philip Hammond, our beleaguered Chancellor of Exchequer, has taken some time off from his Brexit woes to refer inheritance tax to the Office for Tax Simplification. Not many people know about the OTS. It seems an unlikely creation, something like an Office for Finding Needles in Haystacks. You just know it is never going to work. Over the post war years English tax law has become increasingly complex at ever increasing speed. A tip for Brexiteers: make a serious commitment to overhaul and really simplify the English tax system.

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More Thoughts on Tax

More Thoughts on Tax

Apart from simplicity what are the hallmarks of a good tax system. What I would like to see are these: fairness, consistency, transparency and administrative “workability”. So I thought I would go to the OTS website to see what it had to say about the hallmarks of a simple tax system only to discover that they do not actually have a website: simplicity itself!

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The Trust Practitioner’s Handbook

Trust Practitioners Handbook

Persisting with my theme of complexity, trusts is another legal field where taxation has been applied in a complex way. Clearly the Government views most trusts as undesirable and uses tax provisions as an instrument on the one hand to discourage their use, except in certain cases such as trusts for disabled people and, at the same time, to raise tax rates. This has inevitably led to serious challenges for those who administer trusts, whether trustees themselves or professional administrators. Both could benefit from reading Gill Steel’s new book The Trust Practitioner’s Handbook. I cannot think of another publication which succeeds so well in its coverage of the law, administration and taxation of trusts. The case examples are particularly useful. I have not finished the book yet so will comment further in a future blog.

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New Digital Probate Service

New Digital Probate Service

The Probate Registry is conducting trials to enable executors who are dealing with probate themselves, without the help of a solicitor, to apply for probate online. Here is a link to an interesting blog from the man responsible in the civil service for the project. I have not seen anything more recent than this.

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