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AAT calls for a national debate on tax amid cost of living crisis

by wrich

Ahead of next week’s Spring Statement, AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) has published a new ‘Time for Change’ report, outlining a broad series of tax reform proposals to support the creation of a fairer and more effective tax system.

The report includes a diverse range of articles from across the political spectrum, including Sir John Redwood MP and Scotland’s Finance and Economy Secretary, Kate Forbes MSP. A range of organisations from Tax Justice UK to the Institute of Economic Affairs also feature:

  • Tom Peters, Head of Advocacy, Tax Justice UK, asks if now is the time for a carbon wealth tax
  • Andrew Dixon, Founder and Chairman of Fairer Share, suggests a Proportional Property Tax would help ease cost of living concerns
  • Kate Forbes MSP, Scotland Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, sets out how the Scottish government created its first Framework for Tax – an example of how a fairer system could be created across the UK

The new report aims to spark a national debate about how to tackle inequality and unfairness in the UK tax system and give both taxpayers and HMRC better value. Inflation reached its highest level in January for 30 years2 and is set to rise exponentially following recent world events. Scheduled tax increases are also set to squeeze disposable incomes further3 – making it critical that the tax system is efficient and fair for everyone. Several of the contributors raise particularly timely points in light of the current cost of living crisis and changing consumer habits, including:

  • Tom Burgess, Director of Taxpayers Against Poverty, outlines an ‘income for me, wealth for we’ approach
  • Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Pat McFadden MP, calls for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to tackle rising energy prices
  • Richard McIlwain, Chief Executive of the Vegetarian Society, suggests that a review of tax and subsidies on food would help drive health improvements and support changing consumer behaviour

Sarah Beale, the new Chief Executive of AAT, has also written an article for the report, suggesting that any new tax changes be widely consulted on, piloted and tested over a three-to-five-year period meaning no new taxes would be introduced for some time. Such a period of stability would help all concerned parties – individuals, businesses, policy makers and accountants – better understand what is involved, provide greater stability for the tax system and reduce the need for reliefs, exemptions and other changes after any new tax policies are introduced.

Sarah Beale, Chief Executive, AAT, said:

“With numerous new taxes introduced and more to follow, perhaps the greatest change we could ask for would be a period of stability with no new tax changes for three to five years. This more strategic, long-term approach would also provide certainty for taxpayers and their advisers, including AAT members, and reduce the burden on an already stretched HMRC.

“This approach should be complemented by the publication of a clear tax strategy and sticking to it where possible. This would enable the public, politicians and other stakeholders to hold the government to account as well as providing a degree of certainty and stability for planning.

“Whilst taking this step would be uniquely bold and challenging, it could also provide huge economic and social benefits. After the turmoil of the past few years, there is a real opportunity for the government to commit to a strategic, longer-term approach – perhaps  one of the simplest means of delivering a fairer tax system for all.”

A copy of the ‘Time for Change’ report is available via the AAT website.

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