After the election, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats got together and agreed on a programme of what they would actually do together in government. On taxes, they agreed their priorities were to make taxes simpler, fairer, greener and more competitive.
There is a new but rather unwieldy political buzzword: "differentiation". This is the process by which the Liberal Democrats are attempting to distance themselves from their Coalition partners prior to the next General Election. It is a delicate business, as Nick Clegg tries to highlight the differences in values and priorities between his party and the Conservatives, whilst avoiding an outright split in the Coalition
In his book The Great Tax Robbery, Richard Brooks notes that "the institutions that shape the tax system have been captured by the tax industry and corporate interests. Policy is determined through committees and consultation processes in which the tax avoidance industry’s representatives dominate, before being nodded through by parliament without proper debate. This cosy cartel urgently needs dismantling," he declares. Wendy Bradley argues that replacing recently resigned David Heaton with someone on the General Anti Abuse advisory panel (GAAR) who represents ordinary people rather than the tax wizards would be a good place to start.
The Patent Box is supposed to be a tax technicality: from April of this year (2013), any company that makes profits out of a patent can pay a lower tax rate on that bit of their profits. It is meant to encourage investment and economic growth, and to prevent the movement of intellectual property offshore. But Wendy Bradley discovers that the devil is in the detail of what is actually a multi-milion pound giveaway to big companies. The government needs seriously to look at benefits, procedure and priorities in adjusting the tax system.