New recruit heads huge tax law rewrite

A MASSIVE five-year, £25 million project to put 7,000 pages of tax legislation into plain English has taken its first steps with the appointment of Ron Downhill, tax partner at Berwin Leighton, and two other tax experts as advisers on the project.

Downhill said he and the other two advisers to the Inland Revenue would not take part in the rewriting, but for a consultation period of six months would give their views and the views of colleagues on how the legislation should be rewritten, and in what style and order.

Once these issues have been decided, the Inland Revenue envisages a team of 40 lawyers, tax experts and parliamentary clerks from the public and private sectors spending five years rewriting most of the primary tax legislation – 6-7,000 pages – at a cost of £5 million a year.

“I am reasonably enthusiastic about it,” said Downhill. “But the rewrite will need to be reviewed after a year or so to see how well it has gone.”

Downhill is a member of the Law Society's revenue law committee. The other panelists are Maurice Parry-Wingfield, a consultant at Deloitte Touche and a member of the Tax Law Review Committee, part of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, and David Swaine, chair of the tax committee of the Confederation of British Industry.