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‘Make tax forms simpler’ says official body and a Tory MP

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27/04/2007

Tax forms are still too complex and need to be easier for people to fill in, according to a report from the National Audit Office (NAO).

It said that a simplification of the forms would lead to less errors made by the public and make tax assessments by officials easier and more accurate.

The NAO report on HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) points out that improvements have already been made in the service offered by the tax authorities to the public, but that some of the forms are still too hard for the average person to understand.

“Tax can be a complicated matter, so it is important to make it as easy as possible for taxpayers to understand and comply with their tax obligations for everyone’s benefit,” said Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO.

Some of the HMRC advice requires a reader to have a reading age of 16- to 17-years-old, which, the NAO explains, is a level of literacy attained by only half of the UK population.

“In order to understand some of the tax guidance, people need an A-Level standard reading age. That’s simply too hard for many,” said Edward Leigh, chairman of the Parliamentary public accounts committee.

“And if HMRC cannot get its advice right in all cases, how are taxpayers expected to fill in their forms correctly?”

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