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On Thursday 24 September, the Farrer & Co Tax team held their fifth annual Tax Debate at the Royal College of Surgeons. This year’s motion was: “The nation deserves a tax system that looks like someone designed it on purpose”, with David Goldberg QC of Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers and Aparna Nathan of Devereux Chambers proposing the motion, while David Southern QC of Temple Tax Chambers and Michael Thomas of Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers opposed it.
Counsel engaged in a light-hearted discussion as to whether our tax system could be given a complete overhaul and codified in a more manageable way. A full set of this year's "Orange" and "Yellow" statute books used by tax practitioners measures 42 centimetres in width and runs to just shy of 21,000 pages. The admission that National Insurance Contributions are really just another tax, to be "aligned" with Income Tax, is an example of what might be achieved. But – what other admissions might a Government brave enough to do this have to make? Would it be obliged to admit that some taxes exist to further political agendas, rather than to raise revenue?
On the other hand, in a self-assessment world perhaps taxpayers are better off with the complexities, anomalies and contradictions of our present system? The more complicated the system, the more likely it will malfunction. If it goes wrong in favour of the taxpayer, then he wins. Perhaps we should live gratefully with what we have…
The event was chaired by partner Russell Cohen of Farrer & Co.
The result, announced during the drinks following the debate, saw the motion defeated with 55% of the vote.
Many thanks to all of the speakers who took part and made the debate such a thought-provoking and entertaining event.
To view the debate, please click on the Play icon above.
The Barristers have asked to issue a disclaimer that no connection should be made between the force of their arguments and their own personal or professional views...they are, after all, simply hired guns!
For information about the 2015 Tax Debate please contact Robert Field, Head of Tax on 020 3375 7000 or email email@example.com.