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This week's opinion: 23 May 2024

20 May 2024 / Andrew Hubbard
Issue: 4937 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
Remembering the life of Sir Stephen Oliver

Many in the tax profession will, like me, have been saddened by the news of the death of Sir Stephen Oliver. His contribution to tax over a long period of time was immense and I can’t even start to list his achievements in this brief piece.

But I hope that readers will permit me to share some personal reflections here. I was lucky enough to meet Sir Stephen several times during my tenure as president of both the Association of Taxation Technicians and the Chartered Institute of Taxation.

He always showed a real interest in the work that my colleagues and I were doing. I felt in awe of his vast knowledge and experience of the tax world but there was never the slightest hint of pomposity or self-importance. He treated everybody with the same courtesy and kindness.

We shared a love of music and our conversations often veered from the latest tax development to recent concerts we had been to. He had a particular interest in the works of Benjamin Britten and for many years was a trustee of the Britten estate. Indeed, our last conversation was about the merits of a recent production of Peter Grimes.

Sir Stephen’s most lasting legacy will probably be his major part in the move from the old system of General and Special Commissioners to the modern tribunal system.

Some of us at the time missed the informality of the old way of doing things, but time has shown that the decision was the right one – I can’t imagine that anybody would want to go back to how things used to be done.

I am privileged to have had the opportunity to meet Sir Stephen.

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Issue: 4937 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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