The UK government is being urged to keep things simple when it comes to taxation by an industry body.

John Preston, president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), has said that whoever wins the upcoming general election needs to be ‘prepared to be brave on tax simplification’.

At the institute’s annual general meeting, Preston outlined his view on the current taxation situation in the UK, and what needs to change.

“Whichever party wins on June 8th, we hope they take seriously the unquestionable need to simplify the UK tax system,” he said. “Whilst the Office of Tax Simplification has achieved a great deal under John Whiting’s leadership and, I’m sure, will continue the great work under his successor Paul Morton, it must feel at times that they are fighting with one hand tied behind their back with the Government deciding certain reforms are simply politically unacceptable.”

“Clearly that is Government’s call, but my personal view is that they may be underestimating what the population may be prepared to consider if the matter was properly explained to them.”

One particularly relevant area for contractors covered by Preston is the Making Tax Digital scheme. This has faced some difficulties getting off the ground, with some contractors raising worries about their ability and the cost of submitting their taxes under the proposed Making Tax Digital scheme.

“One of our key roles is to try to ensure that tax policy and administration in the UK is as realistic and workable as possible,” said Preston. “To that end, whilst as an Institute we are very supportive of the principle of digitalising the tax system, we continue to have some concerns about the way that the Making Tax Digital programme is being implemented.”

“It was encouraging that the start date was delayed by 12 months for businesses below the VAT threshold but as everyone in this room knows well, there remain areas of concern especially in relation to its impact on small businesses. We are keen to continue to work with HMRC to see if those concerns can be addressed”.