The TaxPayers’ Alliance today reveals that Tolley’s Tax Guide is now so long that the world’s fastest speaker would take about 5 days to get through it.
Even the individual guides for Income Tax, Corporation Tax and Capital Gains Tax are each longer than War and Peace. All three, along with the Inheritance Tax guide, show sharp increases in their length in recent years. The handbook of tax legislation has doubled in length to 11,520 pages since 1997, making it one of the longest in the world.
Longer guides reflect the growing burden and complexity of tax legislation. This has serious effects on individuals and businesses and creates a greater risk of administrative errors.
The key findings of this research are:
Tolley’s Corporation Tax guide is now 1,897 pages long, 185 per cent longer than it was in 1999-2000. That would take the world’s fastest speaker, at over 600 words per minute, 20 straight hours to read aloud.
Tolley’s Income Tax guide is now 1,801 pages long, 54 per cent longer than it was in 1999-2000. That would take the world’s fastest speaker 19 straight hours to read aloud.
Tolley’s Capital Gains Tax guide is now 1,463 pages long, 70 per cent longer than it was in 1999-2000. That would take the world’s fastest speaker 15 straight hours to read aloud.
Tolley’s Inheritance Tax guide is now 958 pages long, 63 per cent longer than it was in 2001-2002. That would take the world’s fastest speaker 10 straight hours to read aloud.
War and Peace comes in at 1,204 pages. Each individual tax guide analysed in this note is substantially longer than this, except for the Inheritance Tax guide which is almost as long.
Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“This shows just how burdensome our tax system has become. It is now so complex that families and businesses are often not aware how much tax they are actually paying, a serious and unwelcome distraction from running their business or living their lives. Patchwork changes over the years mean that there is now a bewildering array of reliefs and concessions that richer people and bigger businesses are often much better equipped to take advantage of. It’s time to set out a serious plan to drastically simplify the tax code and relieve the pressure on ordinary taxpayers.”