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IFS at 50: The Future of Tax

John spoke as part of a panel at one of the Institute for Fiscal Studies' 50th anniversary celebrations. You can watch a...

Tax reforms happen better by stealth

It is 40 years since Mervyn King and I wrote a book together on The British Tax System, advocating comprehensive tax reform. Much of what we advocated has come to pass, but more by stealth than design.

The dangers of ever-closer tax scrutiny

Explaining your possibly complex financial affairs to unsympathetic journalists adds to the already too long list of reasons why able people might not want to go into politics. And such scrutiny draws attention away from genuinely serious and widespread tax evasion, corruption and money laundering, practices.

Look behind the fiscal tree but don’t expect to find any...

There is plenty of tax waste and avoidance — but if eliminating them was painless, it would have happened. However, one need not believe in pots of gold behind the tree to be concerned. Tax is a moral issue, and paying it demonstrates a sense of shared values of importance to economic and social life in the modern state.

Fewer ingredients will best serve the VAT on food

The common sense that says “I know the difference between a Cornish pasty and a ham sandwich when I see it” is appealing, but we would rightly find it unacceptable that the decisions of a tax inspector should be based on the principle that he knows what to tax when he sees it.