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Business leaders would pay more tax in return for clarity from authorities

New research from Grant Thornton shows that the majority (83%) of UK businesses are willing to pay more in taxes in return for greater clarity from tax authorities.  This compares with three quarters (74%) of global business leaders.  The findings come from the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), a global survey of 2,580 businesses  in 35 economies.

Jonathan Riley, Head of Tax at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “The levels of taxation paid by businesses has become a very public and emotive issue.  It's interesting to see these survey results as this is not something we commonly hear from our core clients in the mid-market. Setting emotion to one side, businesses have a responsibility to their investors and shareholders to keep costs down - within the existing regulatory parameters."

"Despite this, our IBR survey clearly shows that the vast majority would actually support paying more in tax in exchange for clearer guidance from tax authorities on what is acceptable tax planning.  It's vital that businesses are consulted in the process of developing  clear lines so that the end guidance is fit for purpose.  The results provide more evidence that clarity is needed in the complex world of cross border tax transactions.

"We were pleased to see in the July Budget that the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has been put on a permanent statutory footing.  The new, expanded OTS will advise the government on how to deliver a simpler tax system, providing independent advice on options for addressing existing complexity in the tax system. We look forward to hearing some practical details soon about how this will be put in to action.

"Alongside the work that the OTS will undertake, there is in my opinion a clear need for an independent review of the entire tax regime, adequately resourced to consider what the UK's tax system should look like for the next century and able to report its findings by 2017.  This wouldn't be an easy task, but would yield some game-changing results."

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