A meeting of minds to map out the future of tax

On Tuesday the 18th of January 2011 the newly formed 2020 Tax Commission will meet for the first time. The Commission will set out a plan for how Britain's tax system should look by the year 2020. It will embark upon the most thorough investigation of the potential for ambitious tax reform in recent memory.

Spending cuts have been at the forefront of the political debate recently, but there is a pressing need for tax reform. Founded by the TaxPayers' Alliance and the Institute of Directors (IoD), the 2020 Tax Commission will map out the way forward. It will assess the economic and moral case for radical tax reform and release a series of research papers analysing the key issues. Since the two organisations last collaborated in September 2009 on a plan to cut £50 billion from public spending, many of their suggestions have been made policy by the Coalition.

Allister Heath (Editor, City AM) will chair the Commission and David B. Smith (Chairman, IEA Shadow Monetary Policy Committee; Academic) will be Chief Economist.

The Commissioners
Andrew Allum (Co-founder and Chairman, TaxPayers’ Alliance)
Richard Baron (Head of Taxation, Institute of Directors)
Kevin Bell (PR consultant and Trustee of the IEA)
Nick Bosanquet (Professor of Health Policy, Imperial College; Chairman, Volterra Health)
Rosemary Brown (Chairman, Gabbitas, Truman & Thring Educational Trust)
Mike Denham (Research Fellow, TaxPayers’ Alliance)
Martin Durkin (Managing Director, WAG TV)
Anthony J. Evans (Associate Professor of Economics , ESCP Europe Business School)
David Frost (Director General, British Chambers of Commerce)
Graeme Leach (Chief Economist and Director of Policy, Institute of Directors)
Andrew Lilico (Director and Principal, Europe Economics)
Mark Littlewood (Director General, Institute of Economic Affairs)
Douglas McWilliams (Chief Executive, Cebr)
Fraser Nelson (Editor, The Spectator)
Stephan Shakespeare (Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, YouGov plc)
Matthew Sinclair (Director, TaxPayers’ Alliance)

Families and businesses in the UK are taxed far too much and the system is too complicated. The 2020 Tax Commission will look at ways to address these problems, feeding into the debate about how to simplify the system. Throughout the year, the 2020 Tax Commission will be releasing research and new statistics to show just how complex the current system is, how it stifles growth and hits the living standards of ordinary families across the UK.

The Commission will also gather submissions and hear from tax experts, academics and business leaders. As the Government tries to tackle the deficit, it is important that a credible and robust long-term plan for tax reform is articulated. The 2020 Tax Commission will explore ways to do this and conclude with a major report in early 2012.

The Prime Minister recently said we need to rebalance our economy "by creating a climate in which the private sector can grow and develop, creating jobs and opportunities for people across the country"; the 2020 Tax Commission aims to plot a course for tax reforms that can help this to happen.

Allister Heath, Chairman of the newly formed 2020 Tax Commission, said:

"Families and businesses in the UK are taxed far too much and the system is horribly complicated. Consecutive governments have taken money out of the pockets of taxpayers to give some back as benefits and grants to selected companies; this convoluted system is costly to administer and prone to error. It's also unfair and a smaller, more responsive state should not only be an economic objective but a political one too. The present system is stifling economic growth, at a time when we need entrepreneurs to flourish and create jobs, and hikes in taxes like VAT and fuel duty are putting huge pressure on the cost of living for ordinary families. The work of the 2020 Tax Commission will look at ways to address these problems, and to push for real and sustainable changes to overhaul the tax system by the year 2020."

Lord Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, offered this endorsement:

"Britain has enjoyed highly beneficial results from ambitious tax reforms in the past. It is vital that the arguments for lower, simpler taxes are made again and that as the economy and the public finances recover we have a plan for a better tax system. By 2020, we should be in a position where we can start to take great steps and work to deliver a tax system that will deliver economic prosperity. The work of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and the Institute of Directors in the 2020 Tax Commission can make a valuable contribution and help make that happen."

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