A tax lawyer wanting simpler tax rules might sound like a turkey voting for Christmas. Nevertheless, from a macro perspective, I fully applaud the calls from economists, academics and business people for a "light regulatory burden", although this is likely to come at a cost. As part of such a simplification, I would also urge the Government to avoid constantly tinkering with the tax rules as (amongst other key requirements) business needs a stable regulatory framework within which to operate.
However, in my view, reducing all tax rates is an unrealistic prospect. Of course, one way a government may achieve lower headline tax rates is by withdrawing or narrowing exemptions and reliefs, so beware the details if tax rates do fall – they are, as we know, where the devil resides. A lower and completely flat rate of VAT of 17.5%, or preferably 15%, for example, may have an initial appeal until you remember the sectors that benefit hugely from zero rating.
Rishi Sunak has been urged to embark on a major tax simplification. Proposals include cuts in corporation tax, a top rate of income tax of 40%, stamp duty of no more than 4% and a "light regulatory burden" as well as VAT at 17.5%.