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Tax simplification for self-employed

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) was established in July 2010 to provide advice to the Chancellor on simplifying the UK tax system. The OTS has recently published a new document setting out the scope of a project looking at simplifying tax reporting and payment arrangements for the self-employed and for landlords of private residential property.

The OTS will initially:

  • Aim to secure the maximum level of direct input from a wide range of taxpayers, agents, businesses, platforms and others such as software providers.
  • Explore the potential segments or populations of self-employed people where their circumstances or business models may point to different approaches or options.
  • Give consideration to the merits or otherwise of having different approaches for different groups or creating one overall system with sub-options, and wider trade-offs as well as taking account of the significant number of self-employed people using the cash basis rather than accrual accounts.
  • Consider the issues arising with different potential approaches or opportunities for information about self-employed people’s income and expenses to be reported to tax agents and to HMRC.
  • Consider the scope, including opportunities and risks, for self-employed people’s tax affairs to be managed in real time or closer to real time, taking expenses into account.
  • Consider the issues involved where the self-employed person has other income, whether from employment or other sources, and links with personal or business tax accounts.
  • Look at the extent to which such approaches would be best pursued on an optional, incentivised or potentially on a mandatory basis.
  • Examine the wider practical, behavioural or competitive factors which would need to be considered, both in relation to self-employed people and others including HMRC.

The OTS will be examining these issues over the Summer with a view to publishing an initial paper in the Autumn. It is possible this could then be followed by a more extensive review.

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