14 March 2011 by

Tax Doesn’t Have to Be Taxing

So say those helpful HMRC adverts reminding us to pay our income tax on time. In reality, years of government tinkering has left the UK with one of the most complex tax regimes in the world, if not the most complex. Combine this with an aggressive and punitive collection policy (just ask Gareth Steed) and woe betide any poor soul who gets their return wrong.

This is perhaps why the report issued last week by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has been widely welcomed. The OTS looked at every tax administered by HMRC over a period of 5 months and identified 1,042 different tax reliefs. The final report is a hefty 187 pages long and looks at 155 separate reliefs in detail, delivering recommendations for retention, simplification or abolition for each one.

However, the importance of the report is not in the finer detail. Running through the paper is the underlying message that significant parts of the tax system need a thorough review, and that the system as a whole needs to be far simpler and more coherent. Of particular relevance to Wills, Trusts and Probate practitioners is the recommendation that Inheritance Tax needs a proper “top down” review to ensure it is fit for purpose.

Most of this has been said before, but it is refreshing to hear a government agency say it too. Of course the cynical amongst us would say that in the current financial climate, the Government will be tempted to simply axe reliefs for the sake of increasing revenue, and that fundamental changes to the tax system will take several years to implement. With the Chancellor due to deliver his 2011 budget announcement on 23rd March, we’ll soon see whether this is the start of a simpler, fairer tax system.

4 March 2011 by

Man’s best friend – not always!

As a family lawyer I often have to deal with disputes regarding children or what should happen to the matrimonial assets upon divorce, but I was really taken aback when I was recently asked by a client to advise on who would get Bingo, the family Labrador, whose name I have changed to protect his identity!

4 March 2011 by

Three’s a crowd

You may have read in the newspapers recently about the Italian bride who filed for divorce a month after her wedding because her husband insisted on taking his mother along for the honeymoon – how romantic!

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