Tax legislation, measured by the respected Tolley’s ‘Yellow’ handbook on direct taxes, has mushroomed from two to five volumes since Labour took power in 1997, and from 1,800 to a voluminous 18,000 pages.
I have a solution that would concentrate minds bit:
- all legislation which directly remove monies from people needs to be collected in one place (a government codex, like Tolley's, on taxation if you will), including substance of laws, statutory instruments and regulation.
- Legislation put in place stating the tax law and codex should be written in plain English. Tax calculations should be incorporated in tables on the codex; any calculations should be proofed so they can be done by anyone possessing a GCSE in maths (low bar I know).
- The text format should be one font and one standard size, say 10/12pt for main body text and 8/10pt for notes or indices in arial.
- now the important bit- the codex cannot be any thicker than 1 inch when printed on standard printer paper; if the printed codex fails this stress test it has to be rewritten; no caveats, no separate indexes or additional explanatory notes - just one 1-inch document.
Doesn't matter the content; the government has to justify that at the ballot box, but a more useful exercise long term would be to get successive governments to think how they raise their money and justify why special interest groups deserve tax breaks (in both sense of the word "break").
I wont hold my breath; might be cool to petition government to do this - would at least raise some interesting questions about tax in general.