Simplicity is a phrase often used to discuss what taxes should be. However, the term "simplicity" in tax is not defined legally or academically, and it depends on the position of the person using the term and the context of the discussion, whether it refers to the system as a whole, tax administration and procedures, the convenience of taxpayers, the method of provision, and the number of provisions contained in the tax law itself.
In addition, when aiming for a simple tax system, it is difficult to discuss it in isolation because the concept of simplicity itself is not clear and its position in tax policy is ambiguous.
In the United Kingdom, which has a long history of modern taxation centered on income tax, tax simplification has been discussed for a long time, but in particular, for about 30 years from the 1990s to the present, there has been a strong societal demand for the tax system to be simplified, and as a result, the Tax Law Rewrite Project to review the structure and provisions of tax laws was implemented and the Office of Tax Simplification, an independent body to propose measures to simplify taxes, was established.
Such efforts to simplify taxes in the UK have their implications for Japan, but on September 23, 2022, the government announced the closure of the Office of Tax Simplification, thereby ending a series of measures to simplify the tax system.
In this paper, after organizing the theories surrounding tax simplification, we will examine the initiatives to simplify taxes in the UK over the past 30 years and clarify their significance.