This piece could equally well be titled "Interesting things we learn in The Guardian". For we find out that Britain has the longest tax code in the world:
The question is: why does the UK have the longest tax code in the world? The Hong Kong tax code, widely held by tax lawyers to be the most admirably efficient in the world, is 276 pages long. The British tax code, rapidly beginning to look like the most disingenuous in the world, is currently in excess of 17,000 pages. It has more than trebled in size since 1997.
And what was it that happened in 1997? Ah, yes, Gordon Brown.
We also find out something else very interesting:
A couple of tax lawyers eventually told me that a 276-page tax code could generate the same if not more revenue in the UK....
So, umm, given that a 276 page code would both reduce the amount wasted on dodging around the systemn and also provide the same or more revenue (in itself the primary purpose of a tax system), why don't we have a nice bonfire and get ourselves a 276 page tax system? One that might actually be comprehensible to some mere mortal? We can't really see any argument against it.
And if we were to take the Hong Kong example seriously we might want to take two more things from them. One being that there's no with holding in their system. In order to pay your taxes you've actually got to go and pay your taxes, there's no salami slicing of that wedge from each and every paycheque. This physical act of having to hand over the money obviously puts a certain pressure downwards on tax rates as people actually see how much government is costing them. And while we'd never actually reach the second defining feature of the Hong Kong system, their low rates, we would obviously get closer if that pressure were to exist.