Tax must be simpler and clearer, says ‘citizens’ jury’

There was said to be little support for shifting the current balance between consumption taxes – VAT – and income taxes

A “citizens’ jury” convened by one of the world’s big four accountancy firms has called for the abolition of inheritance tax but new higher council tax bands on high-value properties.

Members also called for the Government to integrate income tax with national insurance, viewing the current distinction as “misleading” given that it means personal allowances are not really tax free.

The panel said it would increase personal allowances as opposed to reducing the basic rate of income tax but also wanted to see a widening of the scope of so-called “sin taxes” to include unhealthy foods.

The jury was put together by the consultancy Britain Think for PricewaterhouseCoopers, and was said to be “broadly representative” of the nation’s demographics in terms of age, gender, social class and ethnicity. Its 22 members were drawn from across the UK.

They were said to be frustrated by a “lack of transparency” over how tax is raised and then put to work by the Government.

Other items on their shopping list after two days of discussion and debate included a call to radically tidy up VAT, with all essentials made VAT-free but a 20 per cent rate for everything else.

They would impose a tax on major gambling pay outs – including  lottery wins – and favoured the introduction of a new independent advisory body to reduce the influence of “political short-termism”.

There was said to be little support for shifting the current balance between consumption taxes – VAT – and income taxes.

Citizens’ juries consist of a mix of presentations, plenary sessions, open debates and other activities. They are been used to understand where members of the public get to after being given the time, space and information to consider an issue in depth. 

Kevin Nicholson, head of tax at PwC, said: “What’s loud and clear is the focus on simplicity and transparency.”

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