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The labyrinth

07 January 2014 / Robert Leach
Issue: 4434 / Categories: Comment & Analysis , Admin , Budget/Finance Act

Could the relatively short draft of FA 2014 be the start of a welcome trend?

KEY POINTS

  • A 12-fold increase in the length of tax legislation over the past 50 years.
  • How the legislation compares with other great literature.
  • The enthusiasm for definition appears to be compounding the problem.
  • Analysing the reasons behind new tax legislation.
  • More than half of new tax law seems needed to correct previous problems.

In 1960 James Coffield wrote in The Tax Gatherers that income tax law then ran to 1 000 pages which he described as a “labyrinth”.

He added: “One boggles at the thought of the expansion of Revenue law in the next 50 years.”

Those 50 years have now passed and our minds can now boggle at the estimated 13 000 pages of current tax law. This 12-fold increase over 50 years is...

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